Christian Community Calls for Impartial Probe into Brutal Killing
5/13/2016 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that local Christians in India’s northeastern state of Jharkhand believe that a Lutheran minister was murdered by Hindu radicals last week. This brutal killing comes as India continues to face scrutiny from the international community because of its deteriorating religious freedom situation.
Rev. Abraham Biswas Surin, a 64-year-old Lutheran minister at Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kunti, Jharkhand, left his home in Kunti on May 5 to attend a meeting in Ranchi, approximately 30 miles to the north. The next day, May 6, police found Rev. Surin’s body under a railway bridge near the Rourkela Railway Station over 130 miles south of Kunti in Odisha, Jharkhand’s neighboring state.
The body bore multiple injuries, including a deep gash across the minister’s throat. Police found the minister’s mobile phone and a gold ring still on the body, seeming to rule out robbery as a motive.
“I suspect this is the work of hardline Hindu radicals that do not want Christian work in the area,” a local Christian, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told ICC. “This incident has brought fear among the Christians in the area.”
“We are shocked by his murder,” the General Secretary of Gossner Evangelical Church told Asia News. “We asked the Lutheran Evangelical Christians of Rajgangpur to take the matter to the police and the government of [Odisha].”
“The brutal killing of Rev. Surin has shocked the entire GEL family and other Christians in Kunti,” Rev. Johan Dang, Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church’s previous minister, told ICC. “The matter should be taken up to the national level for a proper investigation so that the perpetrators of this gruesome act [are] identified and punished.”
Thousands of Christians held a peaceful rally on May 11, led by the National Christian Association, demanding a fair and impartial probe into the brutal killing. A memorandum was submitted to the Federal Home Minister, Mr. Rajanath Singh, which asked the government to ensure the safety and security of Christians and to also bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.
These events come on the heels of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) releasing its annual report which again labeled India as a Tier 2 violator of religious freedom. USCIRF went on in its report to say that India was on a negative trajectory and that if India did not show significant improvement, the Commission would recommend India as a Tier 1 violator.
ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark, said, “Attacks on Christians and their places of worship by radical Hindu nationalists in India continue to escalate in both number and intensity. In 2016 alone, ICC has documented over 90 attacks on Christians. Many attacks take place in India’s rural areas, so the true number of attacks on Christians is likely higher. This escalation in attacks is, in large part, due to the Indian government’s unwillingness to confront, or even recognize, the actions of radical Hindu nationalists. This has created an atmosphere of impunity in which radicals believe the government is tacitly approving of their activities. The murder of Rev. Abraham Biswas Surin must be a turning point. India must confront these radicals and begin to enforce the religious freedom rights of all of its citizens, including the millions of Christians that call India home.”