01/15/2011, 00.00
INDIA
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Two Hindu radicals arrested for the killing of a pastor in Orissa

by Santosh Digal
Saul Pradhan, a Pentecostal pastor, was a courteous man, but firm in defence of his faith. His bloodied body was found last week near a pond. Police claim he died from the "bitter cold". However, autopsy and determined action of the district authorities expected.

Raikia (AsiaNews) - The Orissa police have arrested two persons suspected of being the killers of a Pentecostal pastor in the district of Kandhamal. The area has become notorious for anti-Christian pogrom in 2008. The two arrested are Marda Pradhan and Baiju Mallick members of a radical Hindu group. They were the last to be seen together with the pastor Saul Pradhan.

Fr. Probodha Kumar Pradhan, a Catholic priest of the church of the Rosary of Rikia confirmed to AsiaNews that pastor Saul was found dead on 11 January, near a pond in the village of Pakal. According to his family, rev. Saul had gone to work in Nahadsoru, a nearby village, on 9 January and never returned home. When his wife Nimata and others searched for him they were told Saul was in the company of Marda and Baiju, already implicated in the pogrom of 2008. Family members immediately denounced the two. Only a few days later, faced with legal threats from the family, Marda and Baiju led them to where they found the bloodied body of Pastor Saul.

An autopsy was performed, but its results have not yet beenpublished. At first the police had said that the minister had died of the "bitter cold".

Fr. Augustine Singh, who visited the area, told AsiaNews that the pastor was a very polite man, but strongly defended his Christian faith.

Kiku Parichha Sagar, a human rights activist, who visited the village said: "We thought that the persecution against Christians was over, but it's still going on."

Parichha has also asked the district administration to carry out a detailed investigation. Also Fr. Bijay Kumar Pradhan, vicar general of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar diocese urged the authorities to decisive action against the killers and their sponsors.

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