11/22/2006, 00.00
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Jammu: Christian convert killed by Islamic militants

by Nirmala Carvalho

Bashir Ahmad Tantray left  Islam around 10 years ago. Very active in social projects and evangelization, he was murdered by two strangers in broad daylight.

Srinagar (AsiaNews) – Two Muslim fundamentalists have killed a Christian who converted from Islam around 10 years ago. Bashir Ahmad Tantray was murdered in broad daylight as he chatted with Muslim friends in his village, Mamoosa, in Baramulla district. He leaves behind a wife and four children, two girls and two boys.

Ghulam Rasool Tantray, his cousin, said: "Two militants enquired about the public transport system. As soon as my cousin finished talking, they killed him." The two militants fled the scene on their motorbike.

After his conversion, Bashir dedicated himself enthusiastically to social projects and to evangelization in the area with an evangelical group. Shortly after he changed his religion, he had received threats against his life and escaped from his village, returning years later.

It is the first time that a Christian convert has been murdered in the northern state, although violence against local Christians has been on the rise for some time. Around two years ago, some Muslim militants threw grenades at the missionary school of Pulwama, while last July, a car bomb damaged another Christian school.

Sajan George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said:

"He is a martyr for the faith and we can only pray that his blood may be a seed for evangelization. There is a palpable sense of fear among the people now but we will seek justice for Bashir's death."

The victim did not have a Christian burial: for fear of further violence, he was buried according to Muslim rites near his home.

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