NEW DELHI, INDIA (Worthy News)-- A 35-year-old church pastor was murdered in India's southeastern Andhra Pradesh state by suspected Maoist rebels who slit his throat, police and Indian rights activists confirmed Thursday, April 12.
The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (CSF), an Indian non-governmental group, said S Dumbu, also known locally as Bingo, was killed last week April 3 in Jerrela village after masked men knocked at the door of his home.
"They told him that Maoists were waiting for him to discuss an issue. A hesitant Dumbu left with the masked men, while [his wife] Janaki stayed back home," CSF cited a report as saying.
"A few minutes later, the masked man came back to Dumbu’s house and informed Janaki that the Maoists killed the pastor reportedly for his irregularities in the maintenance of church."
The man allegedly also tried to abuse the pastor's wife and fled with money.
No more details were immediately available.
Police reportedly said they suspect three locals in the murder. Officially, Maoists have not claimed the attack and it was not clear whether they had links to the group.
The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for over three decades in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.
They frequently target police and government officials, whom they accuse of colluding with landlords and rich farmers to exploit the poor, but have also been accused of attacking churches.
On Thursday, April 12, Maoists released an Italian tourist guide abducted more than a month ago from a remote forest area of eastern India after the state government agreed to release five rebels from prison.
ABDUCTED LAST MONTH
Paulo Basusco along with Italian tourist Claudio Colangelo was abducted on March 14 while on a trek in Orissa state. Colangelo was released 11 days later, but Basusco remained in captivity while negotiations took place between the rebels and the government, news reports said.
That was of little comfort however for Christians in Jerrela, where the murdered pastor settled several years ago.
His wife Janaki had to inform their their sons, who were studying at Chintapalle, another in the region, rights activists said.
There have been growing attacks against pastors working in villages and other rural areas of India, Worthy News monitored in recent years.