BOPHAL, India (Christian Examiner) – A Christian minister in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand was gunned down by Hindu nationalist gunmen at his home Oct. 12, UCANews, an independent Catholic news source, has reported.
According to the report, Chamu Hasda Purty, 54, was shot to death in Sandhi village in Jharkhand's Khunti district. Purty was the pastor of an independent Pentecostal church.
Jharkhand, as well as the national federal government, are both controlled by the Bharative Janata Party, the political face of radical Hindu nationalists in the country. Though Hindu nationalists have killed both Muslims and Christians in the past, the party insists its nationalist movement is purely political, rather than religious or theocratic.
Another minister in the church led by Purty said the pastor's murder has caused considerable panic among the district's Christians, who fear more violence will follow.
Subhash Kongari, a lawyer for an Indian Christian group Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh, said he believes the murder was meant to "terrorize Christians" and make them flee the area, which is in dire poverty. Even while poor, though, Kongari said the church continues to give to the community. Their positive traction in the community and the rapid growth of churches, as a result, has angered local Hindus.
"Every year we witness an average of two murders in the area and several other forms of violence," Kongari said. "They are all part of an agenda to terrorize people (so that they) disassociate with Christianity."
If the intended effect is to make Christians leave, it isn't working. In spite of Hindu warnings against "forcible conversion," none of which have happened among the 1.4 million Christians living in Jharkhand, most Christians have chosen to stay put.
Perhaps that is because they have always felt they had nowhere else to go. Most of the Christians in the area there come out of India's dalit class, the lowest in the Hindu social order – considered "untouchable" in society.