The Global Council of Indian Christians(GCIC), an advocacy group representing church and mission groups, said Vipin Mandloi, 27, was shot dead near Aamkut village in the Jhabua District of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
Mandloi had reportedly been missing since October 14 when he left his house to a nearby mountain to graze his goats and sheep near a Hindu temple. "There was a new temple of Kali the ‘goddess’ of the Hindus [and he] was in its premises…Three ‘Pujaris’, or ‘Hindu Priests’ came there and they shot [and killed] Vipin Mandloi with a…pistol," GCIC President Sajan K. George told BosNewsLife.
The Hindu priests were apparently angry that he had become a Christian and, after abuse of alcohol and a failed marriage, returned to mission work, preaching the Gospel and helping a fellow evangelist who runs several churches in the area.
George told BosNewsLife it appears that "His decision of accepting Christ" prompted priests to "give him as a sacrifice to this goddess Kali…" Although investigations revealed his body was dumped in a lake, there was "blood all over the temple," he said. "It is presumed that the blood would have been smeared from the gun shot wound before dumping him in the water," he added.
It was not immediately clear if there was also blood of other missing persons in the temple, but George said police investigations continue.
"The goddess Kali is a bloodthirsty goddess and she is even given human sacrifice so it is suspected that the [priests] found this an opportune time [to kill the evangelist] as they were already upset with his decision of accepting Christ."
The priests reportedly admitted their involvement in the murder, saying the evangelist had been "stealing coconuts and money that was offered at the temple of Kali." George said the charges were not proven. Three of the priests have been freed on bail, according GCIC investigators.
The same region has become notorious for crimes against Christians, including the reported gang rape of four nuns and the looting of their convent in 2001. Father Lucas Izidore, the secretary of the Indore diocese, said they were raped by up to 15 militants who broke into the convent at two in the morning. They looted the facility and later forced the four nuns “to the nearby fields and gang-raped," them, the priest said in a statement released by GCIC.
There has been growing concern about attacks against Christians and other religious minorities in several parts of India. In the state of Orissa. Hindu militant Dara Singh was sentenced to life for a third time, BosNewsLife established.
He is already serving two life terms for the killing of Australian missionary Graham Staines and a Christian priest. Last week he was also sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a Muslim trader eight years ago at Padiagada in Mayurbhanj district. However, the judge acquitted 23 others for lack of evidence. Singh said he would appeal in the High Court against his conviction. BosNewsLife learned.
It came at a sensitive time for Orissa where news emerged that 40 Hindu militants s beat a Christian worker while he was praying for the sick in a hospital on October 27 Bhadrak district. A 28-year-old independent worker, Phiroj Lima, was attacked while distributing Christian tracts and praying for patients at the Bhadrak Government Hospital, George said in a statement.
Earlier, Hindu militants of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) groups on October 23 dragged four pastors to the Hindu temple in Mouza village of Orissa’s Cuttack district on charges of “forcible conversion.” GCIC said the incident happened as the four pastors were distributing tracts and selling New Testaments. The pastors, Pran Ranjan Mali, Santosh Kumar Majhi, Jayson Badra and Roshan Lima, of Jagatsingpur district, west of the Cuttack district, were released after nearly 12 hours of being detained.
There have been several other incidents against Christians in recent weeks GCIC and other investigators said.
— Four Hindu extremists on November 4 beat an independent pastor and filed “prostitution” charges against him near Karnataka state’s Gundelpet town, said GCIC President George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians. Pastor, M. Thankaraj, received injuries on his head, right hand and chest. It came after other violent incidents in the state, including on October 18 when Hindu militants of the Bajrang Dal group allegedly threatened independent pastor Vijay Kumar in the Chikkaningahalli area of, Hassan district after Christians refused to five contributions and participate in Hindu temple festivities. Three days earlier a Christian worker in Karnataka state’s Shimoga district, Mani Kumar of Grace Baptist House Church, required hospitalization after he was beaten by Hindu militants, reports said.
–Elsewhere, at least four Hindu extremists attacked two Christians from the Believers Church in India (BCI) on November 4 in Jammu, the winter capital of the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, said Compass Direct News, a Christian news agency.
–In Rajasthan state two believers, Panna Lal and Dhan Raj from the evangelical Believers Church in India were reportedly briefly detained by police October 30 after local villagers in Jhunjhunu district accused them of “forcibly converting.” In the state’s capital Jaipur tensions have risen after an influential Hindu militant, Veerendra Singh Rana, falsely accused a Christian orphanage of human trafficking and prostitution, Christians said.
— Even India’s capital, New Delhi, saw religious tensions as dozens of Hindu militants reportedly disrupting a Christian meeting and manhandled the speaker on October 28. Hindu militants were that day also active in India’s Gujarat state where they attacked a Christian man and warned him against attending his church in Navsari district. Bharat Bhai, a farmer who worships in a church run by the Friends Missionary Prayer Band ministry in Ambapani village near Vansda Block, was attacked while returning from his field with his family, said the Evangelical Fellowship of India in comments released by Compass Direct News.
–Days earlier in Maharashtra state, Pastor Victor Periera of Abundant Life Church was briefly in hospital after being beaten in Thane district on October 23, by militants while holding a healing and prayer service, news reports said.
–There were also tensions in Andhra Pradesh, where local residents of Adilabad district reportedly forced Christians to eat meat offered to a Hindu goddess on October 21. The Hindu residents of Krishnaraopet, near Nirmal area of Adilabad district, distributed the meat offered to goddess Durga to local people, but pastor Bikku Lal and some of his church members refused to take it and were beaten, said the All India Christian Council (AICC), a major advocacy group.
Human rights groups have linked the attacks to concerns among Hindu groups about the spread of Christianity in India, a mainly Hindu nation of 1.1 billion people.