A Christian father of two were murdered in Jharkhand, India, likely in response to reporting on the gang-rape and attack on his mother-in-law, who was targeted for converting to Christianity, with her assailants calling her prayers “witchcraft.”
Munda was in bed when his attackers came, warning his wife, Bindi, not to open the door.
“He was suspicious that they must have come for him,” his wife, Bindi Munda, told Morning Star News.
Three men forced the door open and entered, while four or five remained outside, she said.
“One of them pointed a gun at my husband and told the other two men that they should first rape me and then kill my husband,” Munda said.
The couple’s two children, ages 1 and 3 were still asleep inside the home as the armed assailants seized her husband by the neck as he knelt and pleaded with them not to kill him.
“I have done nothing wrong – please don’t kill me,” he cried repeatedly, according to Bindi, who raced to grab the children and escape into a nearby, screaming for someone to help her husband.
“But by the time I had returned to our shanty with some neighbors, he was not there,” she said. “I went about half a mile on foot to a believer’s home to get their help to search for my husband.”
Kanda, who also was known as Philip, was 27, found in a pool of blood under a tree on the side of the road to the Latardih village. Kanda’s mutilated body was barely recognizable.
“He suspected that the body was that of his brother,” the wife of the deceased told Morning Star News. “He rushed to our shanty looking for us, and as he could not find us there, he called on my husband’s phone. I picked up the phone, and he told me that there was a corpse lying by the road, and it looked like that of my husband.”
“The police investigated the matter and arrested some of the accused,” Bindi said. “Since then, opposition against my husband and our Christian faith increased.”
Sanjay Sandil, a member of Siyon Church in the area, said the primary suspect remains at large.
“Every time he (Kanda) would inform us about the harassment (from those assailants), we supported him as a church and stood by him,” Sandil told Morning Star News. “We always reached Bari village in the next couple of hours and ensured that the Maoist group did not lay hands on him or sister Bindi Munda.”
Police had received a lead that the primary suspect was in Bari village and were searching for him, Sandil said.
“They could not catch him, but in the night at around 8 p.m., the men unleashed the attack by forcefully entering his house,” Sandil said. “It is more likely that the same persons who gheraoed the house in May must have showed up at their shanty that night. Brother Philip Munda was brutally hacked to death with machetes. The marks can be seen clearly on the back of his body.”
“He was providing for his family by working very hard,” Sandil said. “Now the small children do not have a father to provide and raise them.”
Bindi Munda has relocated with her children to another village, as the killers could come after her since she witnessed the abduction of her husband, he said.
India is ranked 10th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has worsened since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.