The man who murdered an Indian pastor in the state of Jharkhand has denied that he had anti-Christian motives in the brutal killing.
On May 6, Rev. Abraham Biswas Surin's mutilated body was found in the part of northeastern India where Christian persecution from Hindu nationalists is common. Mohammad Hussain admitted he was the one who slit the throat of the 64-year-old Christian pastor, but he said he had no religious motive for the crime, the Morning Star News reports.
Church leaders in Jharkhand say Pastor Surin's murder marks a new development in Hindu militants' crackdown on Christians in the region. The gruesome killing of the pastor came on the heels of several reported attacks against Christians in the area, Bos News Life relays.
Less than two weeks before Rev. Surin's body was found in a drainage area under a bridge in the state of Odisha, authorities arrested Hussain in his house. He reportedly confessed to the crime and said he did because the pastor of Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church had been continuously demanding for him to repay a loan amounting to US$164.
Near Surin's dead body, authorities found a bloodstained dawali, a weapon resembling an axe. Aside from his cut throat, his body sustained several other injuries on his chin and head.
The day before he was found dead, Surin left his house for a meeting in Ranch. Witnesses reportedly saw him with a tall man, which was later confirmed to be Hussain.
"So far, we do not see any angle of persecution to the incident here related to either the pastor's religious or tribal identity," an unnamed Christian leader told Morning Star in an interview. "It seems to be more of a personal issue," he continued.
However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. The local Christian leader said Surin was overseeing a German hostel project that helps provide for needy Indian children. The leader said Surin withdrew US$745 the day he was murdered, but police have not revealed if they also recovered the money from the victim.
In addition, Surin received around 40 calls from Hussain the previous month. The Christian leader questioned Hussain's motive for calling Surin several times when the pastor had reportedly been pestering him for the loan payment.