India: Christian woman hacked to death with ax in front of 3-year-old daughter

An Indian Christian woman reacts as she offers prayer for the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks in Mumbai 14, 2008.
An Indian Christian woman reacts as she offers prayer for the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks in Mumbai 14, 2008. | REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw

A Christian man in India says his relatives became so enraged that he converted to Christianity that they murdered his wife with an ax and attempted to kill his 3-year-old daughter.

Rohit Oraon, a 25-year-old from the remote village of Lukujhariya in eastern India, told Morning Star News that his family disapproved of his marriage to Parvati Devi, a woman who belonged to a lower-caste, and they began treating him as an outcast. The isolation and abuse he endured drove him toward Christians, where he felt accepted, he said.

The couple converted to Christianity in 2017, causing even more criticism. "My relatives were shocked at my prosperity. They hated to see me flourish in my job,” Rohit said. “An outcast, without family support, expelled from the village family with no one to help and support me, how could I be so happy and contented?” 

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On the evening of Aug. 27, the tension escalated. With the excuse that his home lights bothered neighbors, Rohit’s brother, Bandhan Ram Oraon, entered his home with an ax, followed by his father, uncles, and cousins. 

“Bandhan ran to attack Parvati with the ax and threw it at her from a distance. Parvati bent down to escape the strike, and the ax hit my father instead, who was standing just behind Parvati,” Rohit recalled. 

Parvati ran as Rohit’s uncles and cousins held him down. “Right in from of my eyes, I saw Bandhan hit Parvati with the ax, and I saw her dying helplessly,” he said. “I escaped from Bijla’s hands, but there was no use of going to Parvati because I could see that she was dead already. I escaped and hid behind a bush.”

“After they killed my wife, they called for all the Christians to come out, saying, ‘We will get rid of all of you, once and for all,’” he added. 

The couple’s 3-year-old daughter, Roshini, stood nearby, crying, as she watched her uncles kill her mother.

“Bandhan saw Roshini and caught the 3-year-old by her legs upside down. He was about to kill her with the ax while I helplessly watched. Completely shattered, I prayed, ‘Do something Jesus, save her,’” Rohit said.

When Rohit looked up again, he saw his young daughter quietly walking toward a neighbor’s house.

“I kept on praying in my heart,” he said, adding that his daughter found the neighbor’s gate too hard to open and went on to another relative’s house, where she quietly slipped inside and peeked out a door looking for him.

“I felt so miserable behind the bush,” Rohit said. “I waited for all of them to go back to their homes so that I could pick up Roshini and leave, but even after waiting for a long time, they did not give up but kept searching for me with a torch.”

Leaving the village, he walked 9 miles in the dark to his pastor’s house in Bhanpur village. A short time later, he received news that his father had died.

When he and the pastor went to the Angara police station to file a complaint about the murders, police instead arrested him, Rohit said. His relatives had reported to police that Rohit had murdered his wife and father and absconded.

However, after finding the ax in Budram’s house and other evidence supporting Rohit’s account, police arrested the perpetrators of the crime. 

Investigating Officer Saroj Prasad Mehta of the Angara police station told Morning Star News that the post-mortem report found that Parvati endured at least three blows from a sharp object. 

“Parvati Devi was hit by the ax under her left hand, and one strike was visible just below her ear,” Mehta said. “At the complaint of the deceased’s husband, we arrested two suspects after initial investigation, and investigations are still on.”

Rohit said the murder has caused “devastating upheaval” in his life.

“Roshini is still under trauma and keeps telling me how the uncles killed her mother, and that they would kill me likewise,” Rohit said. “I am very sure that my brother, my father and my uncles [father’s brothers] and their families had planned to kill all three of us, including my daughter.”

Lenin Raghuvanshi, Dalit activist and executive director of the Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights in Varanasi, told Asia News that the incident reflects "the mindset of sectarian fascism that is against the Constitution of India.”

“Marriage is a choice between two people. However, society’s sectarianism is against the spirit of freedom, human dignity and hope, and wants to impose their barbaric understanding on progressive individuals,” Lenin said. 

“The government,” he added, “needs to protect them and initiate legal action against those responsible.”

A Christian leader who requested anonymity told Morning Star News that the attack has shaken area Christians.

“This incident has created great concern among Christians living in the village and nearby villages,” he said. “Please pray for Rohit and his daughter to recover from the trauma and let the peace of Christ comfort them. Also, for the other Christians to be protected from any further harm.”

India ranks as the 10th-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List. 

In an interview with The Christian Post, an indigenous missionary in India identified only as “Pastor Samuel” revealed that persecution against Christians in the south Asian country is “increasing day by day.”

“It’s so unsafe, even for children, yet these people are faithfully following Christ,” he said, adding that despite such persecution, the church in India continues to grow at a rapid pace.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “The Spirit of the Lord is working in the hearts and minds of the people.”

“When the church meets for prayer, worship, and Bible study, miracles happen,” Pastor Samuel said. “People are receiving the Gospel of Christ and asking Christ to come into their lives. More and more people are coming every week. Even amid this difficult situation, Christians are sharing their faith with their neighbors.”

“These people that are going through so many struggles and difficulty are so bold and strong in their faith, and that’s how the church is growing,” he said.

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