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Tribal Villager Murders Christian Brother
Superstitious younger sibling blamed church leader’s faith for daughter’s death.

4/15/08 NEW DELHI (Compass Direct News) – Believing that his brother’s Christian faith was black magic that resulted in the death of his teenage daughter, a tribal villager in Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh state on April 3 killed Thakur Sing Bhil with an arrow shot to the chest, relatives said.

Bhil, also known as Thakur Baba, was a Christian leader from Gatiya Dev village who had faced opposition from relatives after converting to Christianity. He was estimated to be 55 years old.

At home at the time of the murder were Bhil’s wife, Inda Pasaha Bhil, and son, Pangu Singh Bhil. They said Bhil’s brother, 45-year-old Mangar Singh, entered their house at noon in a drunken rage and shot an arrow into Bhil’s chest from close range.

Bhil’s brother “was absolutely out of his senses as he had consumed a lot of alcohol and was furious,” Pangu Singh Bhil told Compass.

He added that his father tried to defend himself, but the arrow piercing his chest instantly killed him. Use of bow and arrow is common among area tribal people for revenge as well as for hunting, though the government of India bans it.

“My husband’s younger brother, Mangar Singh, had a 17-year-old daughter who died about three months ago because of ill health, and he blamed us for he thought that the conversion of my husband and his praying were responsible for his daughter’s death,” Inda Pasaha Bhil told Compass. “He somehow misunderstood our belief and prayers to be black magic of some kind, and since he was always opposed to our embrace of Christianity, it further infuriated him.”

Pastor Kemta Chauhan, who lives in the Bagh area near the site of the incident, said Bhil was a simple farmer who had come to believe in Christ after he shared the gospel with him more than two years ago.

“He used to pray regularly and faced constant opposition from his extended family, who did not understand his faith but detested it, for according to them, it was foreign,” Pastor Chauhan told Compass.

After killing Bhil, relatives said, Singh fled. Singh’s wife left her house hurriedly for her parent’s home, taking with her their other daughter.

Relatives said police had arrested Singh and that he was locked up in Barwani prison, but because of poor communications infrastructure Compass was not immediately able to obtain a police account of the incident.

Bhil is survived by his wife, son and a daughter-in-law, Sonu.

His son Pangu has only one leg, so relatives feared that Bhil’s death would result in financial hardship for the family. Pangu Singh and his wife, married for three years, have no children.

The family filed a First Information Report (FIR) at the Bagh police station on April 3, but they said police thus far have not issued them a countersigned copy of the report. According to common practice, if police do not issue a countersigned and sealed copy of the FIR to the one filing it, it is deemed unregistered.

Relatives said they feared Singh could bribe police into dismissing the case.