Udaya Nagar (AsiaNews) – “I accept full responsibility for my heinous murder of Sr Rani Maria. I cannot say that I was instigated, because my own hands stabbed her repeatedly and for this I will regret my actions till the day I die,” Samandar Singh told AsiaNews. He is the man who on 25 February 1995 stabbed to death Sister Rani Maria. The diocese of Indore, where she worked, has ended the diocesan leg of the inquiry into her death. Now the Vatican will have to decide whether she died a martyr of the faith or not.
Whatever the outcome of that will be, Sister Rani Maria has already accomplished a miracle. Her assassin has repented and has become a member of her family. “In my own small way,” he said, “I try to follow her example, helping those who are less fortunate than me, like Tribal Christians and all those who are marginalised.”
After his arrest in connection with the nun’s murder, he was tried and sentenced to prison, where he spent 11 years. During that time, his wife divorced him and his first son died.
Behind prison walls, he began plotting how he could take revenge against the man who pushed him to kill the nun. But he also received a visit from another nun, Sister Selmi Paul, who happened to be the murdered nun’s own sister. She hugged him and called him brother. He was profoundly touched by it, so much so that from this embrace his journey of repentance began. He gave up plans for revenge and accepted the sorrow caused by the murder.
Eventually, Samandar war released because of a petition signed by Sister Rani’s family, the provincial of the Clarist congregation and the bishop of Indore.
When his release was slow in coming, a delegation went to see the local governor to plead his case. “Only you Christians can truly forgive,” the latter said. “You are a great example. Go, I shall do all I can to get him released.”
Once he was free again, Samandar began to treat Sister Rani’s family as his own. “I regularly visit her tomb,” he said. “For me, it is like a sanctuary of peace and strength.”
“I want everyone to know that Christians work to make India great. The missionaries give us hope through their service, which is to make us a strong and independent people.”
He does realise though that India’s rightwing hate Christians. “Before they drove me to kill, I heard so many hate-filled lies about the missionaries and Christians. They used to tell me that Christians converted people through tricks and that their work with the poor was only for show. Now however I can say without a doubt that the missionaries do nothing but work and help the poor and the marginalised. They have not secret design, other than serve God.”