A Hindu self-professed “holy man” with a devotion to Shiva, the god of death and destruction, attacked an elderly Christian pastor with an axe, slashing him all over his body and head:
A hard-line Hindu has confessed to attempting to murder a pastor in southern India as the Christian leader was praying at night, according to police.
Pastor Madira Koti Reddy, who leads a house church in Rentachintala village, Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh state, on March 29 had gone to his room to study the Bible and pray at about 10 p.m. after eating dinner with his family, his wife told Morning Star News. Madira Shanti said she was in the backyard with their daughter doing dishes at the time.
At about 10:30 p.m., the assailant stealthily entered the house and went to the 55-year-old pastor’s room, where he slashed his arms and head with an axe, she said.
“I heard my husband screaming and ran into the house,” Shanti told Morning Star News.
With just one light bulb on, she couldn’t see the attacker clearly, but she followed him and saw him standing outside the house with the axe, she said.
“He looked to his right and left and quickly ran away,” Shanti said.
Police Inspector Koteswara Rao was patrolling the area at around 11:30 p.m. when he got word about the attack from villagers and rushed to Pastor Koti Reddy’s house, where he found him bleeding profusely.
“I immediately took him to the government hospital nearby, but given the severity of his condition, shifted him to a private hospital in the neighboring town,” Rao told Morning Star News.
After questioning family members and neighbors, police took 11 suspects into custody, he said. Key eyewitnesses informed them that one suspect, Manne Shiva Narayana, also known as Shivayya, was seen walking outside the pastor’s house with an axe that night.
Officers searched his house, seized the axe and took him into custody, Rao said.
“He is a staunch devotee of Shiva,” one of the principle Hindu deities, the inspector said. “He confessed that he wanted to ‘finish’ the pastor that night. He said he was offended by the pastor’s routine of sharing the gospel in the village.”
Shiva Narayana has deep-seated hatred toward Christianity, Rao said. Though police found no affiliation with any Hindu extremist groups, Shiva Narayana confessed that it was ‘hate’ that drove him to attack the pastor, the police officer said.
Villagers who requested anonymity told Morning Star News that Shiva Narayana is a self-proclaimed Shaiva Sadhu, a Hindu “holy person” identified by orange dress like that of Hindu ascetics known as Aghori. They said he is 34 and single.
He frequently travels to the Mallikarjuna Jyothirlinga temple, dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva and wife Parvati, in Srisailam, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from Rentachintala, villagers said.
“He is very well known in his circles there,” one said.
Pastor Koti Reddy’s son-in-law, John Paul, told Morning Star News that the pastor spoke a few times to the family about the Shaiva Sadhu getting the pastor into religious arguments on faith, and that he requested the family pray for him.
“He was in trouble a couple of times because of boldness in professing Christianity,” he said. “He was several times confronted by people who opposed him distributing gospel tracts, but he never stopped.”
The pastor’s wife said he would write biblical verses on the walls of people’s houses, and that if people objected, he would stop and go away. Inspector Rao said police went to all the places in the village the pastor would visit in a day, and “nobody expressed opposition to the biblical verses on their walls, since this area is mainly dominated by Hindus converted to Roman Catholicism.”
Rao said that, in the jail cell, Shiva Narayana immediately objected to the picture of a cross that an inmate had drawn long ago and asked officers to transfer him to another cell.
“We were able to observe in the Shaiva Sadhu high levels of intolerance,” Rao said. “He did not want to be even physically present in a room where a cross is drawn on the wall.”
Shiva Narayana was charged with attempted murder, punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine, with the possibility of imprisonment for life. (source)