Police clueless about pastor’s killers in Punjab

July 28, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, July 27, 2017: Nearly two weeks after a pastor was shot dead in northern India’s Punjab state, police have yet to make an arrest over the crime which one church leader suspects is politically motivated.

Two masked men on a motorbike shot dead pastor Sultan Masih of the neo-Christian Temple of God Church just outside his church in Ludhiana town on July 15, police said. He was declared dead upon being taken to a local hospital.

“The investigation is on. We are yet to solve the case,” police officer Amandeep Singh, who leads the investigation, told ucanews.com July 25. Singh said unless the criminals are identified and arrested police cannot speak about murder motives.

The Punjab State Minority Commission and church officials from Jalandhar Diocese have refused to connect the murder with violence committed by hard-line Hindus in other parts of the country.

Father Peter Kavumpuram of Jalandhar Diocese said the Christian community in the district have very good relations with both the majority Sikh community and the large-Hindu minority in the state.

“We Christians have never had any issues related to religious extremism here,” Father Kavumpuram told ucanews.

Around 350,000 Christians make up 1.2 per cent of Punjab’s 27 million population of whom 58 percent are Sikhs. Hindus make up 39 percent.

Philip Christy, president of the All India Christian Minority Front, told ucanews.com the murder has “scared Christians in the area.”

Christy ruled out “personal enmity” as a murder motive. “People may not be getting any threats but the situation is not good in the area,” he said.

Minority Commission chairperson Munawar Masih told ucanews.com that they have not received any complaints about “threats or harassment” against the Christian community in Punjab.

Masih, a Christian, said commission members have met with the pastors of the district and promised them help.

“We have asked the pastors to live their life and follow their faith with full freedom in the state and if they come across any threat or fear, they should report to us, we will take action,” he said.


Father Kavumpuram from Jalandhar Diocese said church officials and several political leaders suspect “some politically-linked people” are behind the murder which is “aimed at creating a religion-based disturbance” to tarnish the current government.

The opposition Congress party came to power in Punjab last March, making the state among five that the Congress holds. In most of India’s 29 states the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or a coalition with that party are in power.

The Aam Admi (Common Man) party, which rules the state of Delhi, made considerable inroads in Punjab during state elections earlier this month, but failed to come to power.

“We have reasons to suspect the murder has a political angle,” Father Kavumpuram said. The priest said that a year ago a Hindu leader was also shot dead but the police could not trace the killers.

In response to the most recent killing, the state’s chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has asked police to crackdown against those attempting to flare up sectarian tension in the Sikh majority state.

– ucan

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