an Islamic group reportedly threatened to kill him amid signs of a growing number of attacks against Christian workers in the country.
A caller identifying himself as an Islamic terrorist allegedly threatened to kill Pastor Paul Ciniraj Mohammed, head of Salem Voice Ministries (SVM) in Kottayam district, apparently because he converted from Islam to Christianity. The pastor already survived one suspected
murder attempt, reported Christian news agency Compass Direct from the region.
The extremist reportedly called Ciniraj last Thursday, December 14, and told him to “start counting your days, as we will kill you in a few days’ time." Ciniraj was quoted as saying he took the threat seriously because the militant mentioned Bashir Tantray, a 50-year-old volunteer with several Christian organizations who was killed, reportedly by suspected Islamic militants, on a busy road in Barmullah district in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir on November 21.
Just a few days later the body of another, British, Christian charity worker found close to a church cemetery in northern India. Investigators suggested Michael Blakey, 23, may have been stoned to death, BosNewsLife monitored.
Blakey, who was from Burnley, Lancashire, was found close to the cemetery of St John in the Wilderness, a church he attended near cleodganj, a former Raj hill station in the Himalayan foothills. He arrived in Dharamsala in June to work for the Edinburgh-based Tong Len Charitable Trust, which works with displaced Tibetan children and families.
There is concern that only in some case police find the suspects. In one case this month police in Honavar, a coastal town in Karnataka state, arrested Chandrashekar Naik, a member of the Hindu extremist group Bajrang Dal, for assaulting a Christian evangelist. However the December 5 detention was followed by revenge attacks by Bajrang Dal members who reportedly seized two other Christians in the town, marching them to the police station and accused them of attempted forcible conversion.
Naik was released on bail, raising fears among the local Christian population. Analysts say persecution of Christians affects both rural and urban populations in India, although Christians living in villages are believed to suffer, in part because of what is seen as the hierarchical religious and caste communities within the isolated settlements.
In addition to violent attacks launched and incited by Hindu extremists, rural Christians face denial of the use of common facilities like ponds, wells, grazing ground for cattle, schools and cremation grounds. Villagers sometimes rape Christian women as a means of intimidation, but
because of the shame associated with rape, few of these incidents are reported, local Christians say.
The rape of a pastor’s wife in Elha village in Bihar state on November 29 was reported, and one sign of what human rights watchers call increased persecution striking rural Christians.
Kamlesh Singh Yadav, a resident of Elha who was apparently encouraged by Hindu extremists to disrupt Christian activity in the village, raped 28-year-old Neelam Paswan in a field near her home, Compass Direct and other sources said. In a similar incident, residents of Nadia village in Madhya Pradesh state on May 28 gang-raped two Christian women after the husband of one of the victims, Gokharya Barela, reportedly refused to deny Christ.
Analysts have linked the reports of attacks against Christian workers and other believes in India to anger among radical Hindu groups about the spread of Christianity in the country. Christians comprise just over two percent of India's mainly Hindu population f roughly 1.1 billion people. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from India).