By William Stark
09/22/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – On June 4, Sombura Madkami, a 14-year-old Christian boy from Kenduguda village, located in India’s Odisha State, was brutally murdered because of his dedication to the local church. Local Christian leaders tell us that he was murdered by Hindu fanatics who had harassed Sombura, his family, and his community for years.
A Tragic Night
“On the night of June 4, a few villagers ganged [up on] us with a handful of religious fanatics, who were not part of the village, and attempted to kidnap Christians,” Pastor Kosha Moski told the media days after the incident. “The fanatics captured Sombura and two other Christians. However, the two other Christians were able to escape before they were taken into the jungle.”
In the jungle, the fanatics tortured Sombura and then buried his mutilated body to hide their crime.
While Sombura was being tortured, the escaped Christians notified the police of what was happening. The police identified Deba Madkami, Budra Muchaki, Aaita Kabasi, Rabu Madi, and several others as those involved in Sombura’s abduction and murder. After interrogating the suspects, police found Sombura’s body and filed charges against the suspects.
Years of Impunity
While the reaction of the police is commendable, it does little to excuse the fact that Hindu fanatics were allowed to target and harass Sombura and the Christian community of Kenduguda with impunity for years.
According to Pastor Bijay Pusuru, head pastor of Bethel House Church, the Christians of Kenduguda were harassed by radicals for at least the past three years. Pastor Pusuru told International Christian Concern that local authorities, including the village council and police, did little in response to this ongoing harassment. Instead, the authorities looked the other way.
In the months prior to Sombura’s murder, fanatics forced the churches to close and issued death threats to any Christian who continued to attend church.
Sombura, even though he was young, had an extraordinary knowledge of the Word of God and was a powerful evangelist. He rejected the threats to stop preaching. That boldness cost him his life on June 4.
“God gave me a son, but took him back to himself,” Unga Madkami, Sombura’s father, told ICC. “As a father, I am shattered.”
“There had been constant harassment for a year over the practice of our Christian faith,” Unga continued. “However, I never expected that my son would have to pay his life for his faith.”
The Family Escapes
In the wake of Sombura’s murder, Unga, his family, and two other Christian families fled Kenduguda. With assistance from ICC, these families were able to find shelter and safety in a village roughly 30 miles away, as police and local judicial authorities finally take action against the fanatics responsible for Sombura’s death.
In order to help bring justice and closure to the family in light of this incident, ICC covered the cost of their lawyer fees.
“I am thankful for so many of God’s people who have provided for our needs like food and shelter,” Unga told ICC. “We do not know how long we have to stay in this place. We are like strangers in an unknown place. We hope and pray that we will be able to go back to our home village soon.”
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