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Hindu arrested over pastor's death in northern India

Pastor Vinod Kumar was murdered after discussing the Christian faith with his attacker

Hindu arrested over pastor's death in northern India

Catholics pray during a Good Friday service in an East Delhi church on April 14, 2019. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA New)

Police in the northern Indian state of Haryana have arrested a Hindu man for killing a pastor last week.

Sonu Kashyap, who was recently released from jail, attacked Pastor Vinod Kumar with a wooden roof truss in Sangoi village in Karnal district on June 30, according to Morning Star News, a persecution watchdog. 

Sources said the pastor was killed for sharing the "love and forgiveness of Christ" with his attacker.

“We came to know about the incident through local people. The news is very shocking and a matter of concern for all of us. It was never heard here of people killing in the name of faith,” Samuel Masih, a member of the Church of Ascension in Karnal, told UCA News.

“The man who allegedly killed the pastor was arrested by local people and handed over to the police on the spot and the matter is under investigation.” 

Sunita Kumar, wife of the late pastor, told Morning Star News that her husband received a call from Kashyap’s brother on the evening of June 30 to visit a sick family for prayer and was attacked as he was about to return home.

Kashyap had also visited our home and requested prayers for his deliverance from drug addiction

She claimed that Kashyap was waiting in ambush as her husband was about to start his motorbike, attacking the pastor from behind and hitting him hard on the head three times, killing him on the spot.

Pastor Sompal Kalre said villagers found Kashyap standing with the wooden beam in his hand as Kumar lay dead and they immediately informed the police. Kumar was rushed to a nearby hospital but doctors declared him dead on arrival, he said.

The police have registered a first information report against Kashyap and he has been remanded in custody for the next two weeks.

Pastor Kumar is survived by his wife and an 11-year-old daughter.

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According to Sunita Kumar, Kashyap would occasionally visit Kumar in his shop, where the they would talk about the Christian faith, God’s love and forgiveness.

“Kashyap had also visited our home and requested prayers for his deliverance from drug addiction,” she said, adding that “we are not sure what made him take such a drastic step of killing the pastor so brutally.”

Pastor Kalre said that besides the fellowship he began in his village in 1999, Kumar ministered in 18 villages whose families attended the church that met in his house.

It is very unfortunate that a life was lost. It is too early to comment on the issue right now as we wait for the investigation

Police official Baljeet Singh said the motive for the killing was "some trivial animosity." 

“It is very unfortunate that a life was lost. It is too early to comment on the issue right now as we wait for the investigation,” said Minakshi Singh, a Delhi-based activist.

Haryana is run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which has already declared its intention to enact an anti-conversion law similar to that in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh.

Hindu nationalists often accuse Christians of using force and surreptitious tactics in pursuing conversions, often storming into villages and leading reconversion ceremonies in which Christians are compelled to perform Hindu rituals.

The religious conversion law requires a person officiating an act of conversion to inform state officials a month ahead of the ceremony. It also criminalizes an act of conversion using fraud, force or allurement with jail terms and fines.

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