Pastor Found Dead in Tamil Nadu, India

Body appears to have been hung after death, church members say.

The body of Pastor Gideon Periyaswamy of Maknayeem Church in Tamil Nadu, India. (Morning Star News)

The body of Pastor Gideon Periyaswamy of Maknayeem Church in Tamil Nadu, India. (Morning Star News)

HYDERABADIndia (Morning Star News) – The body of a pastor in southern India was found hung from the thatched roof of his house early Saturday morning (Jan. 20), a week after he complained to police about opposition from Hindu extremists, sources said.

Congregation members said they found the body of pastor Gideon Periyaswamy of Maknayeem Church hanging from a rope in his one-room house beside the church building in Adayachery village, Kanchipuram District, but that his knees were bent stiff, as if others had placed him in the noose after his death. He was 43.

A convert from Hinduism 25 years ago, Pastor Periyaswamy was single and served as pastor in Adayachery for more than 12 years, his close friend, pastor Azariah Reuben, told Morning Star News.

“The local Hindus were not happy with growing Christianity,” Pastor Reuben said. “They had several times tried to stop the ministry.”

At pastors’ meetings and on other occasions, Pastor Periyaswamy spoke of Hindu hostilities to his church services and requested prayer, he said. Pastor Reuben said that Pastor Periyaswamy once remarked, “I have no problem – if needed, if the Lord permits it, I would die as martyr for Christ, but the ministry should not stop.”

A deputy superintendent of police identified only as Rajendiran told Morning Star News that a week before his death, Pastor Periyaswamy had filed a complaint with police “on some village people troubling him.”

“Our investigation was underway, and now we found him dead,” Rajendiran said.

A congregation member identified only as Indira said that the previous Sunday (Jan. 14), Hindu extremists were upset about a car sitting outside the area designated for church parking.

“They pelted stones at the car, and the pastor made an announcement requesting the church members to park their vehicles within the church premises only,” she said.

For the past six months, the local hard-line Hindus have harassed the pastor every Sunday, Indira said.

“When they see the pastor, they laugh, giggle and crack humiliating jokes at him,” she said. “They would always look for something to pick a fight over. But pastor told us, ‘We should be at peace with our neighbors – let’s not give them a reason to fight.”’

Last year local Hindu extremists kicked and beat him, Regina said. She and Indira found the pastor’s body.

“On Friday night [Jan. 19], our pastor visited the church families,” Regina said. “He told me and other sisters that there will be a fasting prayer on Saturday morning at 10 a.m., so please come early and clean the church hall.”

Pastor Gideon Periyaswamy, in white, at church celebration. (Morning Star News)

Pastor Gideon Periyaswamy, in white, at church celebration. (Morning Star News)

When they arrived on Saturday morning at 5 a.m. to clean the church building, they were surprised to find the pastor’s room bolted shut.

“We opened the door and were shocked to find Pastor Gideon Periyaswamy hanged,” Regina said. “A rope was fastened to the roof and tied to pastor’s neck, but his knees were slumped towards the ground. When the police came to unhang the pastor’s body, we saw a cut in his neck area. There was blood clotted.”

Police initially refused to file a complaint from congregation members, sources said. After church members and pastors from neighboring villages blocked a road in protest, his body was transported to Chengalpattu Government Hospital, where it has been placed in the hospital mortuary, Pastor Reuben told Morning Star News.

The Vanniyar community and other upper castes in Adayachery hate the lower caste of the pastor and his congregation, said pastor Immanuel Prabhakaran, who worked with the deceased leader of the church, which belongs to the Synod of Pentecostal Churches.

“They threatened the pastor, ‘How dare you set up a church in our locality? This area is of upper castes. Stop running church here. Stop inviting schedule castes to our area. You leave this village else we will make life difficult for you,’” Pastor Prabhakaran told Morning Star News.

Church members suspect Vanniyar and village leaders were behind the killing of the pastor.

“These people had cut the church’s water supply by disconnecting the pipeline,” said one church member.

Originally Pastor Periyaswamy had led the congregation as a house church, and before the current structure was built, they met in a shed. In 2016, area Hindu nationalists demolished the shed, church members told Morning Star News.

“We filed a complaint at Kalapakkam police station, but no action was taken,” one member said.

Pastor Periyaswamy’s cousin, Shiv Shankar, told Morning Star News that Pastor Periyaswamy was involved in many charity activities and led a simple life.

“We come from a Hindu family, and he was the first to convert to Christianity at the age of 18,” Shankar said. “He boldly professed his faith. I can never think my cousin would commit suicide. He was murdered.”

Two weeks ago, he invited all relatives to the church’s anniversary celebrations, he said.

“He was elated. My other cousin and her husband, Gideon’s sister and brother-in-law, gifted him a gold ring,” Shankar said. “He refused, but they forced him to accept. He did. Even that ring is missing.”

Nehemiah Christie, director of legislations and regulations for the Synod of Pentecostal Churches, urged police officials and government to conduct a fair investigation.

“There is urgent need for an autopsy in the presence of a judicial magistrate,” Christie told Morning Star News. “Pastor Gideon Periyaswamy’s death can’t be ruled out as suicide.”

The deputy inspector general of police of Kanchipuram Range, identified only as Thenmozhi, told Morning Star News that officers would carry out a fair investigation.

“There is no doubt in that – we will ensure a fair investigation,” Thenmozhi said. “If there is any troublemaker involved, we are looking at all angles regarding this. We ensure fair investigation. The post-mortem begins once the enquiry starts. Let the family and relatives come out with the facts they have; once we are given the witnesses statements and some supportive material, we will ensure post-mortem.”

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his 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, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution, up from 15th the previous year, and ahead of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Egypt.

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Comments

  1. leo christy says:

    Thank you very much for the updates and regarding the issue if the concerned department fails to arrests the culprits means surely the case will be forwarded to national human rights commission.

  2. Timotheus Bahl says:

    Praise God. Pastor fought the good fight of faith in face of oppression. Glory to God. His blood is not shed in vain. God listens to the blood of His children. Every child of God is purchased by the precious blood of Jesus ,shed on the Calvary. Every drop of the blood of Pastor Gideon is to be counted for. I pray for the people of that village for mercy of God be upon them.They be delivered from the demonic oppression. Be saved from hellfire unto God. May Peace of God over rule their hearts and lives. Pastor Gideon is sure looking for the Church to be bold & wise in witnessing The Kingdom of God

    • Speaking as an Atheist, i see that god, yet again, didn’t exactly do a good job of looking after one of his ‘faithful’, did he? Another life lost due to stone-age beliefs. Maybe some day, Earth will be cleansed of ALL religions, and we will live in peace.

  3. We oppose this cruel thing did by the brutals.you must remember Christians also one of the people like you.India is not only for you brutal.Be careful.you will surely reap this happens.
    Don’t play with our true God Jesus Christ.

  4. Aaron Deva says:

    Government Should Take Severe action against those who involve in this back.
    And restrict to not happen again.
    Pastor soul may rest in peace
    Glory to God

  5. Kevin Taylor says:

    The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. -Tertullian

  6. Pastor Wilson Menwo Ukechi Osigwe says:

    We are really deeply in Spirit with the Church in India with the murder of Pastor Gideon by the Hindu Extremists. We are sure that the Spirit of the Pastor has already risen and cried for vengeance from God Almighty for his blood. We want to reach the authorities of the Church where Pastor Gideon pastored. Our Church in Nigeria and Uganda will like to collaborate with the late Pastor Gideon’s Church and we see how good and proper management and aid can be extended to them through our partners home and abroad. We really need to make very urgent contact with the Church as soon as possible. Please whoever that can help, publish the contacts of the authorities of the Church. May the Lord God Almighty repose the soul of Pastor Gideon to eternal rest in Jesus mighty name… Amen.

  7. The early churches faced same kind of persecution it is not being New for us Christians, we must continue to pray for the people to be released from the clutches of Satan and start to believe in Jesus Christ

  8. Dear friends, thank you so for taking your time to write … this is breaking everyone’s heart and still we are not getting justice… here in ground level we have requested the government to transfer the case the CBI https://goo.gl/ZdQzo6 I humbly request everyone to sign this online petition which will make a change.

    And we need to make sure the church continues at the same place were Martyr for Christ Pastor Gedion was murdered. Please pray and support. God bless.

    Yours in Christ,
    Nehemiah Christie
    Email:nehemiahcs@icloud.com

    • Only just saw this and have sent to all my Indian friends to sign. Truly important to act quickly!! Thanks for putting this up here!!

  9. It is so sad that even in these times people are still fighting and refusing to believe there is a GOD!!!..May the Pastor have everlasting peace with his lord and Saviour..for those who did this, let there sleep be taking from them and have no peace..That Pastor died at the hands of selfish ignorant human beings..when the wrath of God comes down they will definitely be wishing they made a different choice..let the pastor go in peace in Jesus name AMEN

  10. Its very funny how the suspects are not being called in and questioned about the were abouts during that last hour of Pastor Gideon’s well planned death. Time of death is not given… his three days that were spent outside his residence is not accounted for.. I went and met Pastor John yesterday at the Church and asked him if Pastor Gideon spent his last three days with Him he said no.. he spent only one day with me as my family also came to the house… so the mystery of the other two days must be solved.. as to where he went or with who he spent those two days… ???CASE MUST BE HANDED OVER TO THE C BI FOR ACTION AND RESULTS… The front gate to his residence was without a lock… and the girls who went at 8am and not (5 am as reported by Morning Star )to clean the church… put their hand through the gap and opened the gate.. then called out to Pastor Gideon not getting a reply they pushed the front door that was slightly (a jar) open … it opened wide and thy got shocked to find him hanging from the roof post… knees bent. hands out stretch as if tying to grab the plastic chair in front of him.. the medical report states.. under his soles there was signs of pressure used his fingers and toes had scratches..right side of his throat was a compressed mark , dry and no blood.(Morning Star reports there was a cut mark and blood was clotted ) Behind his chest..both areas of the back pressure was applied.. both his upper arms had tight grip marks.. compressed as if held tightly or grabbed when struggling…. medical report gives many clues… that can help to solve the murder… last house visited was Abishah’s and the mother confirmed he had dinner and drank water and then left their home saying he was going to his house… third house he visited that evening is not traced… medical report states… empty stomach… empty bladder… so he must have gone to the toilet …? leaving his front door open the side gate that was made to transport construction sand was never locked.. bang next to his front door and parked motor bike, the front gate through which he pushed his motor bike into was only latched and no lock on it… the side of the church was never covered , there was free access.. into the compound… when the two girls pushed the door open and shouted in shock the passer by rushed to their side and got a knife from the side house which was situated after the gov building which was after the common government toilet to the right side of the residence… no one took a photo while his body hung..as these young girls never carry a mobile phone on them….nor did the passer by or the ones in the gov toilet carry a mobile to take a photo… the rope was cut and the body taken down… and not left hanging till the police came very late that morning… no finger prints were lifted.. no dogs were brought in to sniff for any traces of the murderers…. he weighed about 90 Kgs… and would have needed at least 4 solid men to lift that dead weight.. to get the hanging act completed… holding both upper hands to lift the body with the already tightened noose around his neck…and then to roll the rope around that palm tree log … he was already strangled to death… then the rope tied around his neck to complete the hanging self made look of suicide.. surely four guys to hold tightly and lift him up to get the final tie of the free end of the rope..looking at the knot on the rope on the top of that pole its a professional knot… not a simple or ordinary knot… it looks to be a well planned timely murder… passed off as a suicide..he has struggled in a kneeling position as scratches were found on his toes and the fingers too, must have been used desperately grabbing at the noose being tightened around his neck . Pastor John was spoken to yesterday after the service… and he clearly said Pastor Gideon was so happy to meet with his family who also came to Pastor John’s home the day they all met up … but he does not know about the earlier two days of where and with who Pastor Gideon had spent his time with.. he only says they were together on the 18th and Pastor Gideon left for Chennai reaching Chennai on 19th morning.. auto driver a faithful who visited Pastor Gideon every night did not go on the 19th night but called him by 10 am to ask to place an order for a metal gate since he had another smaller order by another customer…Pastor Gideon told him that the gate work was not important or needed just now he would speak to him in the night when they meet… again a doubt… Sunder was called at 8 52 PM by Pastor Gideon who informed him to remind all the faithful to come at 10 am on Saturday next day being fast and pray session… so Sunder is sure that Pastor Gideon would have then said his night prayers and gone to bed… say latest 10 PM.Friday Night.. I feel it was a kind of a mock crucifixion …. by drunkards, or guys high on drugs… and a professional hand at specialized knots…Forensic report can speak volumes too…The copy of the land purchase document was not found by the relatives who got hold of the keys to Pastor Gideon’s church house.. money was taken away by them on entering and going through all his stuff..hope they will be decent enough to return the amounts taken to the church authorities.. the brother in law was very upset at the aunty who was called in and made to write the complaint…he said he was going to the Home Ministry to get custody of the house keys etc.,. RIP Pastor Gideon. Dr Barbara Thyab Ali, Special Reporter, Crime Most Wanted TV Channel Har-Pal TV.. Director covered the interview.. Mr Jameel Khan… from Mumbai…

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