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The body of Rev Gideon Periyaswamy, 43-year-old pastor of the church of Maknayeem in Adayachery village, in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state, was found hanging from the roof of his house on 20 January.

Church congregation members who discovered his body described his knees bent to the floor and his body hanging abnormally. When the police released the knot, they saw a cut under his throat with a noticeable blood clot.

This incident came a week after the church leader complained to police about threats from Hindu extremists, describing them as “some village people troubling him”. The church members claim that he was harassed and endured humiliating jokes in recent months by local Hindus who were not happy with the increasing number of Christians in the area.

A convert from Hinduism 25 years ago, Periyaswamy had been the pastor of the church in Adayachery for 12 years. Despite the harassment, he had told his community they should be at peace with their neighbours and not create grounds for disagreement.

The incident coincides with the release of the Human Rights Watch World Report 2018, according to which religious minorities in India continue to face numerous human rights issues, including violent attacks. They noted that the attacks were often carried out by groups claiming to support the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and were not credibly investigated by the government. Instead, many senior BJP leaders publicly promoted ultra-nationalism, thus encouraging further violence, Human Rights Watch said.

Since May 2014, when BJP leader Narendra Modi came to power, Christians and members of other religious minorities have complained of worsening conditions for them.

Source: World Watch Monitor

  • Ask the Lord to comfort the family, friends and congregation of Rev Gideon Periyaswamy.
  • Pray his death will not be in vain; may this case highlight the need for justice and protection for minorities and bring glory to God.
  • Pray the Lord will strengthen the faith of Christians in India who face threats of violence. Pray for the perpetrators and those in authority.