Widow of Christian Killed for His Faith in India Flees Village

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The young widow of a Christian in Chhattisgarh who was killed for his faith is living in fear a month after she fled for her life.

“I saw them kill my husband right before my eyes,” said Jime Kawasi, whose husband, 22-year-old Kosa Kawasi, was slain in Bastar District on May 4. “I was assaulted, but somehow I managed to escape. I still fear that my husband’s killers will find me and kill me.”

Fleeing Kapanar village, in Darbha block, she took refuge in a house far from the murder site. The five other Christian families in the village, unable to find her, fled the same day, including elderly parents and young children.

Relatives furious with Kosa Kawasi killed him after villagers forbade any families with Christian members to participate in tribal festival offerings to local gods, sources said.

A mob of about 20 villagers, including Kosa Kawasi’s uncle, Dasru Kawasi, and cousin, Madiya Kawasi, went to his house at 10 a.m. and began to argue with him, telling him to renounce Christ, said area Christian leader Santosh Mandavi. When Kosa Kawasi refused, they began to assault him and his wife, he said.

“They hit the couple with wooden sticks, kicked them with legs and fists,” Mandavi said. When Kawasi persisted in his faith, “his uncle and cousin stabbed Kosa with the knife thrice in his stomach.”

Kosa Kawasi’s wife and younger brother managed to rescue him, took him toward the road and called for an ambulance, but as they were waiting, some people from the mob tried to slit his throat, Mandavi said.

“Kosa’s brother and his wife again saved him and carefully continued to carry him away from the ferocious mob,” he said.

His uncle and cousin then got an axe and struck Kosa on the head, killing him instantly, Mandavi said. Police arrived after about an hour and took his body.

Kosa Kawasi’s brother, Hidma Kawasi, is also a Christian, and he had fled when the mob led by Dasru Kawasi and Madiya Kawasi previously approached his house.

“Thankfully Hidma fled and is still alive, though the mob tore down Hidma’s house, destroying it completely,” a local source told Morning Star News.

In the prior few months, Kosa Kawasi faced immense pressure from family members and villagers, including death threats, if he refused to renounce Christ and return to Hinduism, said the pastor.

Despite Kosa Kawasi’s repeated complaints to the Darbha Police station about the threats to his life and those of other Christians, authorities took no action, refusing to file a First Information Report, a source said.

Mandavi said he went to Kapanar on May 6 and saw police scattered throughout the village. The police station chief informed him that Jime Kawasi was hospitalized in a Dantewada government hospital 28 miles away for injuries sustained in the assault.

“When I met her, she was extremely terrified,” Mandavi said. “She narrated the entire incident and the brutality with which her husband was killed.”

The day after the attack, police arrested Dasru Kawasi and Madiya Kawasi on homicide charges, but no further arrests were made, Mandavi said.

Festival Motive

Prior to the killing, village leaders decided that if just one member of a family were Christian, the entire household would be banned from attending Kapanar village’s Ammajugani festival, where the first mango harvest is offered to the local gods, Mandavi said.

“This infuriated Kawasi’s cousins, uncle and his family, and in their anger, they attacked Kawasi and his wife and killed Kawasi,” Mandavi told Morning Star News. “The other Christian families also were under threat of being attacked by their relatives, and Kawasi’s brutal killing set a precedence for other relatives to attack their Christian member, so all of them fled for their lives.”

During the festival, everyone in the village sings, dances, offers mangos and animal sacrifices to their gods, and then eats together. Whoever does not attend the festival is forbidden from using mangoes throughout the mango season, Mandavi said.

The area source who requested anonymity condemned the villagers for pressuring extended families to the point of murder for adhering to their Christian faith.

“We don’t expect the village heads to behave in such immature ways,” he said. “They caused so many homes and lives to be shattered and spoiled. Kosa lost his life, Jime is a young widow now, Dasru Kawasi and Madiya Kawasi are in jail, and their families will also pay for their actions.”

Jime Kawasi, still feeling physically weak and frightened, lives with the five other Christian families several miles away, uncertain when or if she can return to her home.

“I want to continue to follow and serve Jesus,” she said. “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.”

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position worsened after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power.

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

Republished from Morning Star News.