The following report was issued by CSW…
A 14-year-old Christian boy was murdered in the village of Kenduguda, Malkangiri District, Odisha, on 4 June.
According to a First Information Report (FIR) registered with local police, the victim has been identified as Samaru Madkami and was picked up from his house at about 11pm by several men who took him to a jungle approximately four kilometres from his home.
Samaru’s hacked body parts were later found buried in the ground by police who were taken to the scene by the alleged perpetrators who were being investigated. Local sources report that Samaru was martyred for his faith, as his murder was carried out by Hindu nationalists who had been targeting his and other Christian families in their village. The perpetrators had later returned to Samaru’s home to kidnap his cousin, Onga, and his wife, but they managed to escape.
Samaru was cared for by his father, Unga Madkami, after losing his mother when he was around six years old. Mr Madkami’s village was previously home to thirteen Christian families, but only four remain; these have since been relocated to a safer place. According to one source, Christians in the village have been pressured to forsake their religion by local Hindu nationalists for several years. According to Pastor Bijay Pusuru, who leads the Bethel House Church, which Mr Madkami attended, since the start of this year, there have been four harassment complaints made at the Malkangiri police station. So far, four people have been arrested in relation to the murder of Samaru.
The state of Odisha has witnessed some of the most brutal killings carried out against the Christian community in recent history. In 1999 Australian missionary Graham Staines, who provided care for leprosy patients, was burnt to death with his sons Philip (10) and Timothy (6) while they were asleep in their vehicle in Manoharpur, Keonjhar District. In 2008 targeted communal violence against Christians in Kandhamal resulted in nearly 100 deaths, around 56,000 people being displaced and nearly 295 churches and places of worship destroyed.
John Dayal, a civil rights activist and writer in India, said: “This is the most heinous and gruesome case of anti-Christian violence that has come to light in the enforced silence of the coronavirus lockdown. There has been an unending series of various degrees of violence against the Christian community in several states. What is equally and compellingly obnoxious is the way local politicians and a section of media are trying to erase or at least underplay the abduction and lynching of the young believer. The case must be investigated by the national Investigating Agency as the state police and administration have lost the trust of the people.”
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “Our deepest prayers and condolences go out to Samaru’s father, Mr Madkami, for the loss of his son. Samaru was martyred for his faith. We are deeply concerned by the intolerance and violence towards Christians that continues to fester in Odisha despite lessons from the savage attacks against Christians in Kandhamal which took place 12 years ago. There is clearly a systematic plan to wipe out the Christian community in these areas. We urge the state government to identify the sources of hate and crimes against minorities and to hold those responsible to account.”
The UK’s Foreign Office Minister, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon has sent this response to representations made to him about Samaru’s murder:
The Lord Alton of Liverpool
House of Lords
30 June 2020
Thank you for your email of 15 June about the appalling killing of Samaru Madkami and religious persecution in India.
I find the reports of Samaru’s killing as tragic and disturbing as you do. As you know, and as I’ve said often in the House and publicly, we condemn any instances of discrimination because of religion or belief, regardless of the country or faith involved.
India’ strength, like that of the UK’s, is in its diversity and we trust the Government of India to address the concerns of people of all religions.
We engage India on the full range of human rights matters, working with Union and State Governments, and with NGOs, to build capacity and share expertise to promote human rights for all.
Where we have concerns, we raise them directly with the Government of India.
Most recently, I discussed the situation for India’s minorities with the Acting High Commission of India on 22 May, and have previously raised our concerns about the impact of recent legislative and judicial measures on minorities with Indian Government Ministers.
The British High Commission in New Delhi and our network of Deputy High Commissions across India run projects promoting minority rights. Over the last 3 years, we have worked with local NGOs to bring together young people of diverse faith backgrounds and build positive relationships between them.
In 2019, this programme, which we hope to expand, brought together hundreds of young people from Delhi, Hyderabad, and Kolkata to work together on social action projects in their local communities, and learn about each other’s religions and cultures.
Our diplomatic network also engages leaders of all faiths in India, using important milestones such as Interfaith Week and the British High Commission’s annual Iftar to reach out to faith communities and understand their perspectives.
The British High Commission held a virtual Iftar last month and were joined by over 100 Muslim and civil society contacts from across India, with positive media coverage reaching around 7 million people.
LORD (TARIQ) AHMAD OF WIMBLEDON
Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth
Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict