The young Christian man was murdered for allegedly practising black magic. For Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak, he was killed because he converted to Christianity. Local upper castes whip up the fear of conversion to promote social intolerance towards Christians.
Kenduguda (AsiaNews) – A peace rally is set for today to demand justice for Samaru Madkami, a young Christian man brutally murdered on 4 June in Kenduguda, a village in Malkangiri district (Odisha) by a group of tribals who accused him of practising black magic.
For Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur, the murder of the young man has nothing to do with witchcraft.
“Samaru and his family converted to Christianity three years ago,” the bishop told AsiaNews. “Some members of their community, egged on by radical leaders, did not forgive him.”
In the past three years, Kenduguda has been rife with conflicts and tensions because of a number of conversions that local leaders frown upon.
Samaru’s murder occurred just a month after a Christian from the same village was almost lynched and his house ransacked.
“The upper castes want Dalits and tribals to remain uneducated and poor, so they can better control them,” explained Bishop Nayak.
According to the prelate, who heads the Office for Scheduled Castes/Backward Classes of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), for un untouchable or a tribal person to be Christian means enduring greater social, political and economic discrimination.
"The groups that control local politics and the economy whip up the fear of conversion to promote social intolerance towards Dalits and tribal Christians.”
In 2008 Christian Dalits were the victims of a violent pogrom in Odisha, which resulted in 120 deaths, 40 women raped, and nearly 56,000 people displaced, including 12,000 children.
At least 8,000 houses were torched or looted in 415 villages and 300 churches were devastated.