ucanews.com reporter, BhopalUpdated: August 01, 2016 11:05 AM GMT
The widow of of a police official, grieves on the day of his cremation in Bamangam, in this file photo. Maoist rebels triggered an improvised explosive device that killed two troopers and injured three others in a thickly forested area in Chhattisgarh state. (Photo by AFP)
Maoist rebels tortured and killed a Protestant pastor in a village in southern Indian Andhra Pradesh state July 30, accusing him of being a police informer, senior Christian leaders said.
Pastor Yohan Maria was found with his throat slit and several other wounds in a forest in East Godavari district, said Pastor Tomson Thomas, the head of Protestant organization, Persecution Relief.
Armed men from the Maoist army came to the victim's house in Lachigudem village the night before and dragged him away. They also abducted Pastor Maria's nephew earlier that day, but released him on July 30 with warnings, Thomas told ucanews.com
Maria and his associates had received death threats from the Maoists, warning them not to continue their educational work which helps young people stay away from recruitment camps organized by the rebels, Thomas said.
Maria worked in a Maoist-controlled area where the rebels run a parallel administration violently opposed to the government and police. The rebels, purportedly working for the landless poor and peasants, claim that government policies exploit the poor and view anyone helping the state as an enemy.
The rebels had a couple of times ordered the pastor to send people to their study-classes and recruiting camps, which he politely refused, Thomas said quoting the victims' family members.
The police have confirmed it was the Maoists who carried out both the murder and the abduction, according to local media.
The Maoists left a letter near the body warning that all police informers would meet a similar fate, a report in the Times of India newspaper said.
According to the report, Chintoor police inspector, Durga Rao said that the rebels came to his area from the neighboring area of Odisha and Chhattisgarh, both Maoist strongholds. "Maoists commit offences here and cross the border within hours," the police officer said.
Wilson Nathan, a Catholic lawyer based in Mumbai said Christian pastors who work for the poor have also been under constant attack from Hindu hard-line groups.
Some Christian leaders, who do not want to be named were surprised that it was the Maoists this time. They said in the rebels generally do not attack Christians because they know their mission is to help the poor.