INDIA: Christian convert killed by Hindu relatives

Bindu Sodhi's burialBindu Sodhi (32) was beaten to death on 24 June by Hindu relatives who were angry that she and her immediate family had converted to Christianity. Her burial (pictured) took place two days later under police protection.

Bindu lived in Toylanka village in Chhattisgarh state’s Dantewada district and since becoming a Christian four years ago had faced ongoing harassment and threats from her relatives. They and other villagers said that she and her immediate family had no right to their ancestral farmland now that they were Christians and had warned of dire consequences if they worked the land during the coming monsoon season.

Since the death of her father, Bindu had worked as a teacher at Toylanka’s government-sponsored child and mother care centre to provide for her mother, sister, younger brother, his wife and their 2-year-old child. She was the first person from the village to become a Christian and local pastor Sudru Ram Telam told Morning Star News, “It is because of her evangelism that eight more families in that village came to Christ. She was a great evangelist of our church.”

Two weeks before the killing, Bindu’s uncle and his son trespassed on land belonging to her younger brother Bhima and sowed seeds on one third of it. Bhima submitted a complaint to police, but the station chief told him to go to the revenue department and the village registrar to resolve the issue. Their uncle refused to engage with the revenue department and village registrar – Bindu’s younger sister Aarti Mandavi said, “Uncle told the registrar that because we have all become Christians, we have no right over the ancestral property.”

Bindu’s uncle and his son then cultivated more of the land and on the evening of 24 June Bindu with her mother, Bhima and his wife Tulsi decided to plough and sow the remaining land before their uncle took it over too. According to Pastor Telam someone saw them working their land and informed the uncle, who arrived with his son and started picking up stones and running towards the Christians.

Bhima and his mother quickly drove away on the tractor and Bindu and Tulsi fled on foot, but Bindu fell and was caught. Bhima called the police for help but the station chief reportedly told him it was getting dark and they would not come until next morning.

Bhima then called a tribal Christian forum and its leader called the police station and insisted that police go to the scene. Aarti told Morning Star News that by the time police arrived with an ambulance, “the field was wet with Bindu’s blood”.

Describing the murder, Aarti said: “She was hit by the axe several times at several places, they smashed her face with stones and brutally assaulted her until she bled to death on the field.” Other witnesses also said that Bindu’s uncle struck her with stones and an axe and beat and kicked her until she was dead.


Following Bindu’s murder her close family members made a complaint to district police, saying that their relatives had harassed and threatened them ever since they became Christians four years ago and that despite making previous complaints to local police no action had been taken.

Police later arrested Bindu’s uncle and his son and registered a First Information Report for murder against them, but her family members have fled the village and are staying in a rented room, afraid to return home due to death threats from relatives and local villagers intent on protecting the attackers. Aarti said, “We are scared to go back. We will stay here for some days till the matter is settled.”

Village burial prevented

Bindu’s close family encountered threats and obstacles when they tried to bury her body. Hindu relatives tried to prevent them from burying it locally and Pastor Telam told Morning Star News that police pressurised them to bury it thirty kilometres from the village.

Bindu’s body was hastily transported from the mortuary to the burial place in Dantewada, and in no time the burial was conducted in the evening,” said Pastor Telam. “The police even threatened to put me in jail for four or five hours if I continued to encourage the family to demand the burial to be conducted in the village.”

Asia News reported, “It is unfortunately common in Indian villages for Hindu extremists to deny Christian families the right to bury their loved ones unless they return to Hinduism.”

(Asia News, British Asian Christian Association, International Christian Concern, Morning Star News, Voice of the Martyrs Canada)

Photo: Morning Star News