ANS (06/22/06) — More violence has occurred against a Christian pastor in Madhya Pradesh , India , and further details have emerged surrounding the death of Pastor Prem Kumar.
According to Pastor Paul Ciniraj, Director, Salem Voice Ministries, in Kerala, one of the pastors involved with his ministry, David Raj, was leading a service on Sunday, June 18 with about seven people gathered in a slum behind the railway station in Bhilai, at about 10:30 in the morning.
Ciniraj says that suddenly about 15 dharma Raksha Sena, a wing of RSS, from the Hindu group Bajrangdal, beat up several people, especially Pastor David Raj, and damaging the church property, breaking the door and the windows. They also put cycle tires around their necks, giving them saffron flags in their hands and paraded them around.
Ciniraj also reports they then threatened two women and asked them to give false reports of forceful conversion, also lodging a complaint against Pastor David Raj, having him taken into police custody. Later some police officers came to the pastor’s house at about midnight, dragging and arresting his wife also.
Meanwhile, further details of the murder of Pastor Prem Kumar have emerged, based on the police report.
Apparently, Pastor Prem Kumar left for his regular prayer service at the local church in Kotagiri on Thursday, June 8.
Just after he left, an unidentified, well-dressed person, came and enquired from Sulochana, the pastors wife, whether it was Pastor Prem Kumars house. He said that he had come from Nizamabad to take Prem Kumar to conduct a service. She replied that he had already left, whereupon the man took down Prem Kumars cell phone number and went away.
The report states that at about 3 p.m. in the afternoon, Pastor Prem Kumar called his son Sunil saying that he was going along with the man on his scooter to conduct a prayer service in Rampur Thanda in Kotagiri Mandal.
It adds that at around 9 p.m. the same night Prem called his son saying that he was at the Bodhan bus-stop, and was accompanying four (unidentified) people for another prayer service. He mentioned that he was scared to go along with them, and asked that Sunil call him every half an hour. He told his son that he would be reaching Kotagiri in about half an hour.
When his son tried calling Pastor Prem a little later, he found that he could not reach him as his cell phone was in a non-coverage area. He repeatedly called, getting no answer and later finding out that his cell was switched off. This brought about panic and fear among Pastor Prem’s family members.
The police report says Pastor Prem’s sons, Sunil and Sudhir, called their friends in Kotagiri to find out if their father was seen there. When they did not get a positive answer they immediately left for Kotagiri.
After searching a long time that night, they gave up and started again in the early hours next morning, asking everybody if they had seen their father.
One person said to them that they had seen a dead body and a scooter in an open space nearby. They rushed to the spot and found spectacles, later moving on to find a pair of slippers, and later still a scooter and a Bible. To their utter shock they found their father dead in a pool of blood, strangled and with his head crushed. They took the body home and the funeral took place the same night at 10 p.m.
Pastor Prem was very fond of his grandson John Abishek, whose birthday was on June 10, the day following the funeral. Prem Kumar had been looking forward to the event.
According to the latest information available, four people who killed Pastor Prem Kumar went to a nearby hotel in Rampur after the incident. The hotel owner noticed blood stains on them and immediately closed the hotel suspecting something to have gone wrong.
The police are searching for the four persons and the hotel owner whose whereabouts are not known. It is further believed that the daughter-in-law of Pastor Prem’s daughter-in-law is a converted Christian from a RSS family and the relationship was a ‘love marriage.’
It has been reported that the landlord and villagers were very annoyed because the daughter-in-law has been sharing her faith in Jesus with her family and drawing not only them, but others, along with her father-in-law to belief in Christianity.
This is apparently one of the reasons why they killed Pastor Prem Kumar. It is suspected that the two main landlords, who are the owners of about 100 acres, are behind this murder.
Ciniraj said the leaders of his mission visited the grieving family, sharing their own grief and are praying with and for them.
“They continuously need our prayers, consolation and empathy,” Ciniraj said.