INDIA: Murdered convert’s widow still unable to return home

Jime KawasiThe widow of a Christian killed in a mob attack in Chhattisgarh state is living in fear five weeks after she fled their home and village.

Jime Kawasi, whose husband Kosa Kawasi (22) was killed at their home in Kapanar village, Bastar district on 4 May, told Morning Star News, “I saw them kill my husband right before my eyes. I was assaulted, but somehow I managed to escape. I still fear that my husband’s killers will find me and kill me.

Kosa was killed during an attack led by his uncle and cousin, who were reportedly angry that Kosa and Jime had converted to Christianity and refused to return to Hinduism. Their anger was fuelled by the fact that villagers forbade any families with Christian members to participate in tribal festival offerings to local gods, and it was also reported that after Kosa’s conversion his uncle was determined to seize his land.

Local pastor Santosh Mandavi told Morning Star News that village leaders had decided that if just one member of a family was a Christian the entire household would be banned from attending the village Ammajugani festival, when the first mango harvest is offered to local gods accompanied by singing, dancing, animal sacrifices and a communal meal. Anyone who does not attend the festival is forbidden from eating mangoes.


Pastor Mandavi reported that a mob of about twenty villagers, including Kosa’s uncle and cousin, went to his house at 10 am on 4 May and began to argue with him, telling him to renounce Christ. When Kosa refused they began to attack him and Jime. “They hit the couple with wooden sticks, kicked them with legs and fists,” the pastor said. “His uncle and cousin stabbed Kosa with the knife thrice in his stomach.”

Jime and Kosa’s younger brother Hidma Kawasi, who is also a Christian, rescued him and called for an ambulance, but while they waited some members of the mob tried to slit his throat. Jime and Hidma carried Kosa away but his uncle and cousin reportedly got an axe and struck him on the head, killing him instantly. Police arrived after about an hour and took Kosa’s body.

Jime was wounded but escaped to Dantewada government hospital, 45 km away, where her injuries were treated. Hidma fled during the attack and the mob destroyed his house.

Jime has taken refuge far from home, together with five other Christian families who  fled the village following the attack, including elderly parents and young children. She still feels physically weak and remains fearful of further violence were she to return home, although she bravely commented, “I want to continue to follow and serve Jesus. It was for this Jesus that my husband was willing to be faithful to the point of death. I too will follow in his footsteps. Please pray for me; I need your prayers.”

The day after the attack police arrested and jailed Kosa’s uncle and cousin on homicide charges. On 6 May Pastor Mandavi went to Kapanar and reported that he saw police scattered throughout the village. He added that he saw Jime after the attack, saying: “When I met her, she was extremely terrified. She narrated the entire incident and the brutality with which her husband was killed.”


Indians from rural villages who convert to Christianity face hostility and huge pressure to renounce their faith, from discrimination to physical attacks. In the months before the attack Kosa and Jime faced pressure, including death threats, from family members and villagers to renounce their new faith and return to Hinduism. Relatives and neighbours tried to drive them out of the village and seize their property. Kosa’s uncle allegedly said that he would get some land if he returned to Hinduism and his nephew’s refusal enraged him. Kosa repeatedly notified local police about the threats to his life and those of other local Christians but no action was taken and police refused to file a First Information Report.

A local resident told Asia News on condition of anonymity, “In recent years, Bastar has seen a drastic increase in attacks on tribal Christians and their property. Some have been driven out. Christian tribals live in fear and insecurity even among their own families. Kosa Kawai’s paternal uncle wanted to grab the nephew’s rightful property because of his Christian faith.”

Attacks on converts to Christianity are often perpetrated by nationalist groups that adhere to Hindutva ideology and aspire to an India that is for Hindus only. Asia News reports, “These movements have increased their appeal in Bastar, causing and fuelling tensions between Christian and non-Christian tribals. Social and economic boycott is a daily reality for Christians.”

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

Photo: Morning Star News