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Killing of Indian teenager part of ‘systematic plan to wipe out’ Christian community

The killing of a Christian teenager allegedly by hard-line Hindus in eastern India is part of program to drive Christianity out of a region known for its anti-Christian violence, says a faith-based rights group.

Samaru Madkami, 14, was taken from his home in a village of Kenduguda, Malkangiri District, Odhisa, by a group of men late at night on June 4.

The men took the boy to a jungle area 4 km away from his home and then hacked him to death, stated Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Four people have been arrested in relation to the murder.

According to a police report those arrested showed the authorities where the boy’s remains were buried.

Before their arrest, the alleged perpetrators tried to also to kidnap two of Samaru’s relatives who managed to escape.

Local sources told CSW that Samaru was martyred for his faith, while claiming that the killers were Hindu nationalists who had been targeting Samaru’s and other Christian families in their village.

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One source told CWS that Christian villagers had been pressured to forsake their faith by local Hindu nationalists for several years.

CSW said that murdered boy had been cared for solely by his father after losing his mother when he was around 6 years old. The village that they called home once had 13 Christian families, but only four had remained. CWS further noted that these four families have now been relocated to a safer location.

CSW said that the state of Odhisa has witnessed some of the most brutal killings carried out against India’s Christian community in recent history.

“We are deeply concerned by the intolerance and violence towards Christians that continues to fester in Odhisa despite lessons from the savage attacks against Christians in Kandhamal which took place 12 years ago,” said chief executive Mervyn Thomas, referring to the targeted communal violence against Christians in Kandhamal in 2008.

“There is clearly a systematic plan to wipe out the Christian community in these areas,” Thomas said. “We urge the state government to identify the sources of hate and crimes against minorities and to hold those responsible to account.”

During 2008’s communal violence against Christians there were nearly 100 deaths, around 56,000 people being displaced and nearly 295 churches and places of worship destroyed.

Also, CSW noted that in 1999 Australian missionary Graham Staines, who provided care for leprosy patients, was burnt to death with his sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, 6, while they were asleep in their vehicle in Manoharpur, Keonjhar District.

Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Government critics say that inter-faith harmony in India is being disrupted by politicians for narrow political gains.

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