A church planter located in India’s Maharashtra state was brutally executed by Hindu extremists earlier this summer. The Christian father of three had suffered years of abuse for his faith amid rising religious persecution and violence in the country.
On July 10, a group of unidentified Hindu extremists near Badpari village forcefully dragged Pastor Munsi Thado, 35, from his home and into a nearby forest as his wife, Rajini, pleaded with them to let her husband go.
The assailants would go on to brutally murder Thado, leaving his body in the forest in the Godcharoli district of Maharashtra state, according to local sources. Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported that Thado was killed because he refused to recant his Christian faith.
“He was killed because of his faith, life, and ministry to the Adivasi people in the area,” one of Thado’s colleagues told ICC. “He led more than 20 families to Christ in the last five years, ever since he was thrown out the village by some Hindu radicals.”
During the five years leading up to his murder, Thado and his family had retreated to the forest near Badpari village due to pressure from local leaders. Being angered by Thado’s evangelistic efforts, village leaders demanded that he denounce his faith. After failing to comply, he and his family were chased out of the village.
Despite being ostracized, Thado continued to share the Gospel with others, leading approximately two dozen families to faith in Christ, Thado’s ministry partner told ICC.
Out of a total population of roughly 1.36 billion, India has 66 million Christians within its borders. According to Open Doors USA, the country has seen a steady increase in Christian persecutions over the last decade. The nonprofit organization ranks India as the 10th most dangerous place to live as a Christian.
Human rights groups claim that Hindu extremists have been allowed to target Christians unhindered since the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party won the general election in 2014.
Crimes against Christians in India increased by 60% between 2016 and 2019, Persecution Relief reported. They also found that between January 2016 and June 2020, over 2,000 crimes were motivated by religious intolerance against followers of Christ.
In fact, eight out of 29 states in India have implemented “anti-conversion” laws that prevent people from converting or trying to convert from Hinduism to Christianity. Penalties for violating these laws range from fines to prison sentences.
Many claim that such laws are utilized to discriminate against religious minorities or to justify taking the law into “their own hands” via extrajudicial killing.