Maoists in the Maharashtra state of India killed a Christian church pastor last week, becoming the fourth Christian to die for their faith in the South Asian country in the last two months.
Morning Star News reports Pastor Munshi Devu Tado was leading a worship service on his property last Friday afternoon with about 15 families in the Bhatpar village when three armed men and three women interrupted the services and abducted him at gunpoint.
"They shook hands with him at first, then took him by his hand and, after few steps, they tied his hands at his back with a rope," the pastor's wife Jaini Munshi Tado told Morning Star News. "I, my father-in-law and brother-in-law followed after them, pleading and enquiring as to why they are taking him. They said they just want to talk to him and that we need not worry, they will send him back in a little while."
"Hardly five to seven minutes later, we heard a gunshot," Tado continued. "We immediately ran in the direction only to find the body of my husband in the pool of his blood, and the Maoists had gone. I wept bitterly, my husband was gone."
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In addition to his wife, Pastor Tado leaves behind four children, ages 6, 5, 4, and 1.
Maoism is a variety of Marxism–Leninism that Mao Zedong developed for realizing a socialist revolution in the agricultural, pre-industrial society of the Republic of China and later the People's Republic of China. The Communist Party of India is a Maoist party which aims to overthrow the Indian government through a people's war.
Tado's wife said she and her husband were former Maoists. The couple was arrested and spent 18 months in prison for their participation in the communist insurgency. But the couple had parted ways with the communist party, returning to their village and had never been bothered by any members of the party.
Sources said local villagers were upset with the growth of Tado's church and the number of converts to Christianity from their native tribal religion. They incited the Maoists to kill the pastor.
Tado's murderers tried to give the impression he was killed for being an informant. According to his wife, they left a note in his pocket saying he earned large sums of money as a police informant against the insurgency.
Pastor Vijay Kumar Vachami, a mentor and close associate of Tado, said when local police arrived to investigate, they confirmed that Tado was not an informant. They did not know him.
Local authorities are continuing their investigation to bring the pastor's murderers to justice.
Vachami told Morning Star News that Tado and his wife put their faith in Christ seven years ago and were constantly persecuted for it.
"They were persecuted in every way," Vachami said. "Then one day, their house was attacked and brought down by the villagers. They were told to leave the village or else they would be killed."
"He was a very simple man and a very faithful servant of God," he added. "Please pray for his family that is left behind."
Last April, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom urged the US State Department to add India as a "Country of Particular Concern" to its list of nations with poor records of protecting religious freedom.
India is ranked 10th on Open Doors USA's 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.