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Assam – Pastor, among 5 held, for ‘killing, hanging’ tribal youth on refusing to convert to marry girlfriend

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Guwahati. A local Christian pastor and his assistant have been arrested in connection with the ‘lynching’ of tribal youth Biki Bishal in Lakhimpur district after he refused to convert in order to marry his Christian girlfriend. He was given a choice between converting to Christianity or forgetting the girl for good.

The two accused have been identified as pastor Ismail Shabbar (44) and his assistant Niranjan Aian. Those arrested also include the father and uncle of the girl.

Bishal was murdered on the night of 11 September and his body was found hanging from a tree near his house the next morning. Biki was allegedly lynched by a mob of around 200 people armed with sticks, who were drawn from local churches, after he had refused to convert in order to marry his Christian girlfriend in Lakhimpur district.

The accused have been sent to police remand, said BM Rajkhowa, Lakhimpur’s Superintendent of Police.

According to the police, the pastor, his assistant and others had come to his house to force the deceased to convert to Christianity on the day of murder. They had taken away the girl, who was willingly living with the deceased as they were in love.

“However, the primary investigation has revealed that the deceased was murdered and hanged by the father and the uncle of the deceased who have been arrested and are being interrogated,” the police told.

Meanwhile, human rights organisation Legal Rights Observatory (LRO) tweeted that local Christian leaders, including the principal of a Catholic school, organised a mass gathering in a church allegedly to pressure the administration to secure the release of the pastor.

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