"After preaching God’s Word at a New Years service at Beradakia Church in his native town of Baliguda, Kandhamala district in India, 35-year-old Pastor Jimendra Nayak (Mantu) [picture of Nayak and his family here] never made it home to the village of Barakhema. At 8:00 p.m. on January 1, 2006, Nayak took an auto rickshaw after service to return to his home in Puri district, where he has lived for two years and served as pastor of Indian Church Assembly. He didn’t leave the vehicle alive.
Police insist that he died in a mysterious “accident,” but the officer in charge and the postmortem doctor were not available for comments. VOM contacts investigating the pastor’s death reveal that the pastor’s accidental death was highly unlikely.
Before Pastor Nayak’s body was removed from the alleged accident scene without proper procedures and dumped at Baliguda Hospital, his body was found inside the cabin of the rickshaw with his head badly smashed. Khanu, who is linked with Hindu radicals and is the owner/driver of the rickshaw with vehicle number OR_07L_2054, sustained no injuries, while no major damage was done to the glass of his transport. Other rickshaw drivers in Baliguda collected accounts of Khanu spending large amounts of money on friends and alcohol around the time of the incident.
It is reported that when Nayak’s widow, Sashrekh Pradhan, and relatives initially attempted to file a complaint looking into the suspected murder, but the police officer to which it was submitted rejected it. The person assisting the widow as she prepared a petition for an investigation into the death of her husband was harshly rebuked by the presiding officer. No inquiry about the cause of Nayak’s death was made before the complaint, and no action was taken once it was filed. For six weeks following the pastor’s death, relatives have unsuccessfully tried numerous times to attain a postmortem report.
All of the circumstantial evidence, along with the apathy demonstrated by the police and hospital, clearly point to the premeditated murder of Pastor Nayak. The police’s stance that the incident was an accident is strongly based on “evidence” provided by Binod Pattnaik, who was a co-passenger in the rickshaw and is a reported sympathizer of Hindu extremists. When VOM sources interviewed bystanders who were around the bus stop where Nayak found his ride, they noted unfamiliar people discretely asking questions about the pastor’s whereabouts, the time of his prayer service, etc.
Furthermore, Pastor Nayak’s widow and relatives divulged that radical Hindus targeted him for some time, approaching him on numerous occasions because of his witness to Hindus. He was threatened and restrained from carrying out his missionary work in the community. But Nayak’s love for Christ saw him through all of the persecution, just as it is currently doing for his widow and family. His mourning wife, Sashrekh Pradhan, one-year old son, Digal, 14-year-old sister, eight-year-old handicapped brother and elderly parents are all living testimonies of his faithful service for the Kingdom. They are pressing forward in their quest to fulfill Jesus’ great commission on earth."