By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- The body of Prem Kumar, a 67-year-old preacher from the Church of South India, has been found in a forest in Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh state, a Christian news agency reported Monday June 12.
Compass Direct quoted the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) as saying that Kumar’s head was crushed beyond recognition, apparently with heavy stones. Police said the body was identified based on the description of the clothes worn by the preacher.
India media reported that a young man approached Kumar early Thursday morning, June 8, requesting that he hold a prayer meeting in Rampur Thanda village later that day.
Although Kumar reportedly suspected foul play, he agreed and asked his son Sunil Kumar to call his cell phone once every 30 minutes.
When Kumar arrived at the pick-up point, strangers were waiting to meet him. Kumar phoned his son and again asked him to call frequently. Kumar’s cell phone went dead at about 11 a.m local time. His body was later found in the forest near Rampur Thanda, Compass Direct said.
Mahesh Chandra Laddha, superintendent of police in Nizamabad, denied in published remarks that Hindu militants were behind the killings.
He reportedly said Kumar was one of the accused in a murder case and that relatives of the victim could be behind the killing. He also claimed that Kumar’s son had been involved in a kidnapping and that after the kidnapped woman was released, she had threatened him.
Kumar’s son, however, said his father had no enemies, and he strongly suspected the hand of Hindu extremists, Compass Direct reported. He also claimed he could identify the person who invited his father to hold the prayer meeting in Rampur Thanda.
The GCIC and the All India Christian Council said the involvement of Hindu extremists could not be ruled out. A number of similar incidents have occurred in Andhra Pradesh over the past six years where religious tensions remained high Monday, June 12. There have been similar killings in recent years, Christian rights watchers said.
The killings have been linked to fears among radical Hindu groups about the spread of Christianity, especially in rural areas. Most of India’s over 1 billion people are Hindus, and Christians comprise roughly two percent of the population. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from India).
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