An Indian church planter has been brutally killed after being subjected to several years of relentless abuse for being a Christian.
Munsi Thado, 35, was found dead in the forest near Badpari village in the Godcharoli district of Maharashtra state on 10th July.
Local sources told International Christian Concern (ICC) that Thado had been abducted from his home by an unknown group, before being found dead by wife, Rajini. He had been living in the forest near Badpari village for the last five years due to a relentless campaign of persecution at the hands of local villagers, who demanded that he renounce his Christian faith. When he repeatedly refused, they banished him from the town.
“He was killed because of his faith, life, and ministry to the Adivasi people in the area,” one of Pastor Munsi’s colleagues told ICC. “He led more than 20 families to Christ in the last five years, ever since he was thrown out the village by some Hindu radicals."
Though the identity of his killers is not yet confirmed, Pastor Thado and his family had been previously targeted by Hindu nationalists. Prior to his conversion seven years ago, the pastor was part of a Maoist separatist group. After hearing the gospel, he openly rejected the group's ideology and decided to follow Christ by becoming a pastor.
Christians have been suffering greatly across India in recent years, with Open Doors listing it as the 10th most dangerous place on earth to live as a follower of Jesus. Attacks against believers are common and often perpetrated by Hindu nationalists, who believe that the Christian belief system is "foreign" and has no place in India. Their ideology has been legitimised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In its fact sheet on the country, Open Doors notes that converts to Christianity from a Hindu background are "especially vulnerable to persecution and are constantly under pressure to return to Hinduism, especially through campaigns known as Ghar Wapsi (“home-coming”)".
"They are often physically assaulted and sometimes killed," the group adds.
Open Doors estimates that there are roughly 66 million Christians currently residing in India, out of a total population of approximately 1.36 billion.