NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- A government official of India's remote Tripura state was
trying to avoid prison Monday, June 10, after he allegedly beheaded his Christian son-in-law.
Local police initially told local media that the 55-year-old Gobinda Jamatia killed Tapas Bin, 35, with the help of a tribal sorcerer for refusing to abandon Christianity and embrace Hinduism.
Police later said however that Bin's perceived "low economic status" may have played a role in the May 25 murder in the Teliamura area of West Tripura District.
Christians have suggested that the case is more complex and that police may be under pressure by local leaders to deny the religious reasons behind the killing.
Jamatia killed Bin "with the help of [sorcerer] Krishnapada Jamatia," which also involved a tribal ritual, explained Chandan Saha, acknowledged senior police official in published remarks. Bin's beheaded body was later found in a nearby stream, police said.
Official Jamatia, who works at the state government's science and technology department, belongs to an an ethnic group that worships Hindu deities while retaining tribal rites and rituals, according to investigators.
Police detained Krishnapada Jamatia, 42, who reportedly confessed to the killing, while the government official remained at large.
There was concern Monday, June 10, about the fate of Bin's family.
"My father did not recognize our marriage and had been pushing Tapas to convert to Hinduism, which he refused. My father might kill me and my son too," Jamatia’s daughter, Jentuly, reportedly told the police.
Bin, a private teacher from Bihar state, married her three years ago after she became a Christian while he was tutoring her academically.
The couple has a one-year-old son. The killings have underscored tensions over the spread of Christianity in mainly Hindu India.
Both suspects are Jamatia, the fourth largest tribal or aboriginal group of Tripura, who experts say view Christian conversions as an attempt to destroy their distinctive identity.
Sorcery is also widespread in Tripura, media quoted the state's Chief Minister Manik Sarkar as saying last month.
Christians claim there are also tensions between Jamatias and the separatist militant National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT). Hindu leaders claim the rebels are supported and led by Christians but local churches have denied any involvement in the group.
Christians comprise just over two percent of India's mainly Hindu population of some 1.2 billion people and about three percent of Tripura state's nearly 4 million people, according to several estimates.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since 2004).