Kolakuluru: A Dalit pastor was found dead in the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh several days after he filed a complaint about money stolen from his bank account.
Pastor Vunnam Daniel, 65, was last seen alive on April 21 after meeting with village leaders. He was found dead three days later after his neighbors notified the authorities that he had not been answering his mobile phone, according to World Watch Monitor.
On April 21, Daniel filed a police complaint against the person he suspected of taking the money.
The branch manager of Andhra Bank in Kolakuluru town in Guntur district told reporters that he had given Daniel his statement of account and asked him to return on April 24 with a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) about the theft.
Daniel’s daughter, Sarah, said that the pastor told her about the missing money, but did not disclose the amount.
“I thought it must be some three or four thousand rupees. I consoled my father and asked him to take care of himself. I didn’t know that I would come back to this village to see that my father had been killed,” Sarah told World Watch Monitor.
Daniel’s Cousin, Dharma Rao, said Daniel had deposited 600,000 rupees in the account for his grandchildren.
Some of Daniel’s neighbors believe that the police did not take the pastor’s complaint seriously because he belongs to the Dalit lower caste group.
“They [the police] get bought for money easily. We challenge them by asking: ‘Why has this happened to Pastor Daniel alone?'” a villager who wished to remain anonymous told World Watch Monitor.
“Because he comes from the lower strata of society, and he is a good Christian whose voice they can ignore, and rob him of his money. They can enjoy his money and kill him brutally. This is what you get if you are a Dalit and a Christian in this country,” the villager continued.
Police Inspector Chinna Mallaiah claimed that Daniel did not contact the authorities to complaint about the missing money. “No, he never came to us,” he said. Several suspects have been charged in connection with the murder and the missing money, but he declined to name the accused.
Daniel’s neighbors have submitted a plea to a Deputy Superintendent of Police to express their concern about Malliah’s ability to conduct a fair investigation in the case, arguing that he had initially rejected the pastor’s complaint.
India is currently ranked 11th in the Open Doors 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution.