A recent convert to Christ was found killed and beheaded in Odisha earlier this month. While the specific reasons for his death are not yet known, he had faced constant pressure and intimidation since becoming a Christian nine months earlier.
On February 11th, Anant Ram Gand was home with his six-year-old son Purno when three men came to the door, tied him up and dragged him away. The young boy began to follow but the attackers pushed him away, threatening to harm the child if he followed. In fear, Purno ran to his uncle's home.
According to reports, Anant Ram was first shot in the head, then pummelled with a stone before he was decapitated and left on the road. He is survived by his wife, Sukbati Gand, and five children.
Anant Ram was well known as a Christian. When he came to Christ, his family also readily embraced their new-found faith. But soon after, the community turned hostile toward them. Eventually, the family was forced from the village and moved a kilometre away.
Before coming to Christ, the slain victim had been supportive of the Naxalites (Maoist guerrillas). Some reports have suggested that his killers may have been members of the group, fearful that he might share secrets with the police. Others, however, believe the guerrillas may have been contracted by militants in the village to kill him.
India has seen continued anti-Christian violence, particularly since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power. States with anti-conversion laws, such as Odisha, have been particularly affected. For more information on the difficulties facing Christians in India, go to our country report.
Please uphold the family of Anant Ram in your prayers. May the Lord help them to cope with the grief and shock they are now experiencing. Intercede for the Christians residing throughout Odisha who are facing daily pressure because of their faith in Jesus. Pray that justice will take place in this recent case, and that Anant Ram's testimony will continue to reach many others in India for Christ -- including those who knew him.