Monday, June 27, 2005

Hindu zealots killed Hyderabad pastors: police

HYDERABAD: In a breakthrough in the investigation of the murders of two Christian pastors here, police say religious fanaticism drove three Hindu rightwing activists to abduct the victims and kill them.

Cyberabad Police have arrested prime suspect Goverdhan and are looking out for two others, saying they carried out the murders to stop evangelical activity by the victims. All the three are activists of the Hindu Vahini organisation.

Hindu Vahini has, however, denied that it was involved in the murders and accused the police of torturing its activists.

The mutilated body of pastor K. Issac Raju, 45, was found at Golconda on the city outskirts June 2. He had been missing from his house in Raidurgam area May 24.

Earlier, pastor K. Daniel, 35, was found murdered at Shamshabad, also on the city outskirts May 20. He had been abducted from his house in Asifnagar a day earlier.

They were approached by unidentified people on the pretext of solemnising marriages, police said. Both were garrotted with a rope.

Though Cyberabad police have not made a formal announcement about the breakthrough in the case, police sources said auto-rickshaw driver Goverdhan had confessed to the crime.

He has been taken to Shamshabad and Golconda to reconstruct the sequence of the crimes. Police are looking out for Satyanarayana of Hyderabad and Ganesh of Karimnagar, who allegedly helped Goverdhan carry out the killings.

The three suspects were allegedly emboldened by an Orissa High Court order commuting the death sentence for Dara Singh who killed Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, police said.

Police are also investigating whether they were also involved in the murder of pastor Yesudas in Karimnagar. Yesudas was abducted and murdered April 17.

The killings had spread panic among the Christian community. Police had formed special teams to solve the cases and had interrogated many suspects belonging to Hindu rightwing groups.