Pastor shot dead in move 'to terrorise Christians' in east India

A pastor has been shot dead in eastern India as part of an increasing trend of attacks against Christians.

Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister, is leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, considered to be the political wing of Hindu nationalist groups.Reuters

Chamu Hasda Purty, 54, of the pastor of the Independent Pentecostal Church, was shot dead in his home in India's Khunti district. A group of armed men forced their way into the minister's house and shot him, a close family friend told

The motive "is to terrorise Christians" said Subhash Kongari, a lawyer and district president of Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh, the national Christian forum.

"Every year we witness an average of two murders in the area and several other forms of violence," Kongari said. "They are all part of an agenda to terrorise people [so that they] disassociate with Christianity."

The Jharkhand state, which includes Purty's Khunti district, is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, considered to be the political arm of Hindu nationalist groups.

The impoverished state has a population of 33 million including 1.4 million Christians, most of whom are indigenous people or those belonging to the untouchable castes. With 4.5 per cent of the population Christian, Jharkland has almost double the national average.

However local media has reported several instances of churches being destroyed and Christians beaten or threatened if they don't renounce their faith.

Hindu groups have accused missionaries of luring poor villagers to Christianity with the offer of material goods and have strengthened the demands of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for laws to check conversions to Christianity.

Local police have said they are unsure of the motives for the shooting but the attackers are on the run.