Christian Pastor in India Beheaded by Maoist Rebels

ICC Note: The body of a Christian pastor in India was found decapitated after he had been captured by Maoist rebels in Jharkhand state. A message from the Maoists was left with the body of the pastor saying he was killed because he was a police spy. Christians in India often find themselves vulnerable to Maoist rebels as wide discrimination against their community damages their relations with local police.

05/03/2018 India (World Watch Monitor) – The body of a pastor was found beheaded on the shore of a reservoir in eastern India this morning (2 May), hours after he was abducted by around 25 masked men whom police believe to be Maoists.

Residents of Kubasal village, in the Tamar area of Jharkhand state, identified the body lying on the shore of Surangi reservoir as Pastor Abraham Topno and alerted police. He is believed to have been murdered in the late hours of 1 May.

The 46-year-old pastor was last seen by villagers traveling in a jeep with a local taxi driver named Ranga Singh Munda.

“It was late in the evening, as they entered the thick forests surrounding the state capital, Ranchi,” Inspector Gimal Kumar told World Watch Monitor. “They pulled the pastor and the driver out, blindfolded them and tied their hands with a stiff rope. Then they cut his throat.

“The masked men told Ranga Singh Munda to go away and that that they have no business with him. ‘We only want him [the pastor],’ they said, and asked Munda to run away.”

The inspector added that the pastor’s body, whose head had been severed, had been taken for a post-mortem.

The pastor’s teenage niece, Susari, told World Watch Monitor that her aunt (the pastor’s wife) and family had been waiting for him to return home for dinner last night when the news came from the taxi driver that he had been captured by armed men.

Police Inspector Kumar confirmed that the taxi driver is now in their custody and that they are in the process of filing an official police First Information Report, or FIR.

“We have a hint that [the Maoists] travelled via Arahanga and the surrounding forest range to reach Tamar. It is a very common path of the Maoists to enter Jharkhand from Odisha,” he said. “The Odisha border is only 50 meters away.

“This kind of attack can take place anywhere, but the presence of the forest range in this jurisdiction makes it a soft spot. It is a home to Maoists passing by and highly unsafe for ordinary citizens.”

The inspector added that the jeep was found near the body and had been set on fire.

A note was found in red ink in the Hindi language that said, “Death to police spy. Long live PLGA [People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army],” and signed “Your Maoists”.

“It appears that Maoists have targeted and murdered him simply based on the suspicion that he is an informer to the police,” Inspector Kumar said, adding: “I know there’s a church in Kubasal and am aware of the presence of Christians in the area, but never really interacted with any particularly because there was never a need.”

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