7 July 2016

Girl found dead in Indian jungle, faith-related murder suspected

India: Girl found dead in jungle, faith-related murder suspected

Samjheera (20) from Dumra, Latehar District in Jharkhand State, India, was found dead in a jungle near her village on 14 June. Local Christians suspect the girl was killed because of her Christian faith.

According to her church pastor Philip Tirkey, Samjheera became interested in the Christian faith after she was healed of an illness two years ago when she prayed to Jesus. She had recently been preparing to be baptised.

However, the pastor says that Samjheera's uncle and cousins had strongly opposed her decision to convert to Christianity. She had often shared with church members that her relatives were threatening to kill her if she refused to deny her faith in Jesus.

When Samjheera's dead body was found in the jungle near her home, her relatives said that she had gone to the jungle to collect fruit; they claim that she fell from a tree and the injuries had caused her death. However, many in the village, including non-Christians, suspect that she was murdered because there were no marks on her body indicating a fall. According to one local villager, there was a mark around her neck that suggested strangulation. Her body was burnt according to Hindu rituals the day she died.

"Police were not involved and there was no opportunity given for investigation. Because she had been continuously threatened by her relatives with being killed if she converted to Christianity, we believe that she was murdered," says Pastor Philip Tirkey.

Open Doors works through local partners in India to provide persecuted Christians with Bibles and Christian literature, holistic training, livelihood and community development, adult literacy programmes, vocational education, advocacy support, legal seminars, and urgent aid and relief.

Open Doors is also running an advocacy campaign encouraging supporters in the UK and Ireland to write to the Indian High Commission about the persecution faced by Christians in India.

India is number 17 on the Open Doors World Watch List, which ranks the severity of persecution faced by Christians in 50 countries. India has increased from number 28 in 2014 and number 21 in 2015.

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Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for 60 years. Last year supporters in the UK and Ireland raised over £11.7 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources, in over 60 countries.