Pastor Daniel was found dead in his church building in Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu, India on Saturday. The police declared it a suicide. But his relatives and church members are convinced that he was murdered.
“He had been threatened several times by Hindu extremists before to not continue with ministry, we are sure they killed him,” one of Pastor Daniel’s relatives said.
The roof of the church hall had previously been destroyed by Hindu extremists and the water and electricity supply had been cut off. According to Christians in the village, Pastor Daniel complained against the five people responsible for the act but no legal action was taken. He received continuous threats since making the complaints.
Pastor Daniel’s body was discovered hanging from the roof in a room adjoining the church, which he used as his living quarters, by a member of his congregation who had come to clean the church. His body was taken to Chengalpattu Government Hospital for a post-mortem where hanging was deemed to be the cause of death and the incident was declared a suicide.
Members of the church and other local Christians gathered in front of the hospital to condemn the police and the negligence of the local authorities.
A funeral for Pastor Daniel was held yesterday. Hindus in the villages protested the event saying that the funeral should not be held in the village as the land on which the church is built had legal issues.
Pastor Daniel had ministered in the village for 10 years. His church had a congregation of around 100 believers.
India is number 11 on the 2018 Open Doors World Watch List. Most persecution comes from a variety of radical Hindu groups wanting to cleanse their country. Converts from a Hindu background bear the brunt of the persecution in India and are constantly under pressure to return to Hinduism. Radical Hindu groups are increasingly enjoying impunity when they harass Muslims or Christians. At least eight Christians were killed last year and nearly 24,000 physically assaulted. As a result, the level of fear and uncertainty among Christians is increasing.