01/14/2014, 00.00
INDIA

Evangelical clergyman stabbed to death in Andhra Pradesh

Four unknown men visited the home of Rev Sanjeevulu, head of the 'Friends of Hebron.' After beating beat him and stabbing him seven times, they also attacked his wife, who managed to escape. Christians who asked for justice were arrested by the authorities. "Although the motive of the attack is not yet known," said a Christian leader, "It could be premeditated murder."

Hyderabad (AsiaNews) - A group of strangers murdered an evangelical pastor in Andhra Pradesh and tried to kill his wife as well before they fled the scene of the crime.

At present, the government appears unable to deliver justice in the case, but was able to arrest a group of Christians who demonstrated to demand the arrest of the culprits.

The murder victim, Rev Sanjeevulu, died yesterday after two days of suffering.

According to some sources, on the afternoon of 11 January four men visited Rev Sanjeevulu's home in Vikarabad, a village that is 64 kilometres from the state capital of Hyderabad. The clergyman heads a group called the 'Friends of Hebron'.

On the doorstep of the reverend's home, the men said they wanted to "pray with the pastor," but as soon as he came out, they stabbed him seven times and beat him with clubs and sticks.

After she heard screams, Sanjeevulu's wife rushed to him, whereupon the attackers tried to kill her as well. Although she was stabbed, she luckily managed to escape and survived.

The pastor was admitted to Yashoda hospital (pictured) where, despite medical treatment, he died yesterday afternoon from his stab wounds.

The day after the attack, many Christians and friends of the clergyman went to the hospital where they expressed their sorrow for the attack.

Christian leaders in Hyderabad organised a dharna (sit-in protest) demanding justice from the government.

Some of the faithful marched outside the offices of the Chief Minister to demand the arrest of the culprits, but were themselves arrested.

Police did announce that it was launching an investigation into the incident.

Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Churches, told AsiaNews that he was "deeply saddened" by the murder of the clergyman.

"Although the motive of the attack is not yet known, we must strongly condemn the fact that anti-Christian persecution has made a comeback in Andhra Pradesh. We need to see justice done," George said.

"Approximately three months ago," he added, "we know that Sanjeevulu had a heated discussion with some members of a Hindu fundamentalist group, who threatened him. It could be premeditated murder."  (N.C.)

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