A Christian persecution monitor reported the Jan. 1 death of a 35-year-old Indian pastor, who died mysteriously in an "accident."
Voice of Martyrs expressed doubts that Pastor Jimendra Nayak was killed in an auto-rickshaw accident as claimed by the police. Based on subsequent inquiries, VOM suspects foul play.
The pastor had been delivering a New Year’s service at Beradakia Church in his native town of Baliguda, Kandhamala district. At 8:00pm, he departed for his home in the Puri district, where he had lived for two years working as a pastor in the Indian Church Assembly. He never arrived.
According to Indian authorities, Nayak dead body was brought to the Baliguda Hospital, with serious head injuries. Apparently, the corpse was found in the cabin of the vehicle, while the driver was not injured. In addition, the front glass of the rickshaw showed no signs of damage.
The driver, named Khanu, had ties to Hindu radicals, says VOM. The chief witness, Binod Pattnaik, who had sat with Vayak at the time of the incident, reportedly had sympathies for Hindu extremists. VOM interviews with bystanders, near the bus stop where Nayak found his ride, indicated that unidentified people had been tailing the pastor.
The pastor’ widow, Sashrekh Pradhan, told VOM that her husband had been threatened on many occasions by radicals after evangelizing to Hindus. She and a few relatives attempted to file a complaint for the police to investigate further, but were denied by the officer on watch. A presiding officer rebuked a volunteer who was helping the widow to file a petition for further investigations. Six weeks after Vayak’s death, relatives tried unsuccessfully several times to obtain a postmortem report.
Nayak is survived by his wife, one-year-old son, Digal, 14-year-old sister, eight-year-old handicapped brother and parents.