NEW DELHI, September 11, 2019 (Morning Star News) – Two weeks after losing his wife to an axe-blow in front of his 3-year-old daughter in eastern India, Rohit Oraon believes that the murder was planned, not spontaneous, and that his relatives also meant to kill him and his child.
What he still cannot believe is why.
The 25-year-old Rohit knew his brother and father disapproved of him marrying out of his tribe and becoming a Christian, and he knew they were jealous of his prosperity and the fellowship he found among Christians after they tried to leave him desolate by shunning him.
“But I still cannot fathom how can his jealousy lead him to murder,” he told Morning Star News, referring to his brother, 36-year-old Bandhan Ram Oraon. “After they killed my wife, they called for all the Christians to come out, saying, ‘We will get rid of all of you, once and for all.’”
His wife, Parvati Devi, was 23.
In the remote village of Lukujhariya, 28 miles from the Jharkhand state capital, Ranchi, nearly everyone practices the tribal Sarna religion; there are only five other Christian families, including that of his Uncle Phulchand, the first to put his faith in Christ (as all villagers bear the surname of their tribe, Oraon, they are identified by first name). The Aug. 27 assault that killed his wife – and, by accident, his attacking father – was not a spontaneous escalation of a petty family dispute, he said.
Rohit had argued with his older brother and father over their insistence that he turn off house lights, and then, as if in a nightmare, they came at him and his wife with an axe; the uncles and cousins who joined the attack appeared too quickly after his brother called for them; and when his wife lay dead, the relatives chanted, “Whoever will do ‘Hallelujah’ will face similar consequences,” he said.
At 7:30 p.m. that evening his father, Demba Oraon, walked the 50 meters from his house to Rohit’s place and tried to start an argument with his wife as she sat next to the door, yelling at her to switch off the house lights so villagers could sleep, Rohit said.
“I came running from inside the room and politely told my father that we have just put our daughter to bed and are about to eat our dinner – within half an hour we will switch off the light,” he said. “But he began to abuse my wife and lifted the wooden rod that he was carrying to hit the electric bulb outside the door. I immediately rushed and caught hold of the rod, and once again asked him to leave and not to create a mountain out of a mole-hill. I said we will switch off the light soon.”
His father left, leaving the wooden rod in Rohit’s hand. Soon his older brother, Bandhan, rushed toward his house with a wooden rod and leapt on his wife to hit her with the rod, Rohit said. He stopped Bandhan with the wooden rod in his hand and pushed him away from her, threw him down and held him in the mud. Before letting him go, he repeated that he would turn off the lights in a few minutes, he said.
“The moment I let him loose, he rushed to his house and came out carrying an axe,” Rohit said. “My father also accompanied him, and my father went straight to my wife to assault her, while Bandhan came straight towards me to attack me with the axe. In self-defense, my wife threw something at my father, and he fell on the ground. I had a tussle with Bandhan and repeatedly asked him, ‘What is this all about?’”
Bandhan yelled, “Come!” and two of his uncles with two of their sons immediately came and took hold of Rohit, he said.
“I was shocked at the readiness at which they were just waiting to be called,” he told Morning Star News. “Bandhan ran to attack Parvati with the axe and threw it at her from a distance. Parvati bent down to escape the strike, and the axe hit my father instead, who was standing just behind Parvati.”
His wife ran as Rohit’s uncles Budram Oraon and Pote Oraon, and Pote’s sons Pardi Oraon and Bijla Oraon, held him, he said.
“Right in from of my eyes, I saw Bandhan hit Parvati with the axe, and I saw her dying helplessly,” he said. “I escaped from Bijla’s hands, but there was no use of going to Parvati because I could see that she was dead already. I escaped and hid behind a bush.”
In the chaos they did not see where he fled, he said.
“I was much concerned and worried about my daughter Roshini, whom I saw standing near our house door crying as she watched her uncles kill her mother,” Rohit said. “Bandhan saw Roshini and caught the 3-year-old by her legs upside down. He was about to kill her with the axe while I helplessly watched. Completely shattered, I prayed, ‘Do something Jesus, save her.’”
Rohit said he does not know what distracted Bandhan, but that when he looked up again, he saw Roshini quietly walking toward a neighbor’s house.
“I kept on praying in my heart,” he said, adding that his daughter found the neighbor’s gate too hard to open and went on to another relative’s house, where she quietly slipped inside and peeked out a door looking for him.
“I felt so miserable behind the bush,” Rohit said. “I waited for all of them to go back to their homes so that I could pick up Roshini and leave, but even after waiting for a long time, they did not give up but kept searching for me with a torch.”
Leaving the village, he walked nine miles in the dark to his pastor’s house in Bhanpur village. At about 4 a.m., he received news that his father had died.
When he and the pastor went to the Angara police station at 7:30 a.m. to file a complaint about the murder, police instead arrested him, Rohit said. His relatives had reported to police that Rohit had murdered his wife and father and absconded.
He insisted on his innocence under heavy interrogation, finally persuading officers to check the murder weapon for prints. Police took him to the village, where they separated the relatives, tied them with a rope and found their accounts did not match. The relatives began to answer truthfully only after officers began beating them, Rohit said.
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Source: Christian Headlines