South Asia

Pastor and Wife in Jail; son’s plea in High Court

A pastor and his wife have been in prison for more than four months following a murder that took place in the hostel they run. After the lower court and the district court rejected their plea, they have filed a petition in the Ranchi High Court. Their only son, a graduate from Bangalore is highlighting the plight of his parents and asking why they are still behind bars even after the murderers have confessed to their crimes.

Pastor Masih Das Minz, 59 and his wife Sarita Minz, 55 of Ghatshila, district Jamshedpur of Jharkhand were arrested during an investigation almost a month following a murder of an 11-year-old in Bethany Hostel they ran in Ghatshila.

Bethany Hostel during construction of the first floor for the boys hostel

In the early hours of the morning on 27 June 2016, an 11-year-old boy woke-up and attempted to leave after he witnessed a homosexual act being performed between two boys in the hostel. “The two boys on being spotted in the act, caught hold of this witness and took him on the roof of the hostel, where he was beaten by a brick several times, until he died,” said Aman Minz – the couple’s son.

On the morning of the same day, Pastor Masih went to inform the police of the murder, while his wife Sarita Minz called-up the child’s parents and informed them of their son’s murder. The child’s parents along with a mob led by local politicians and the head of the village reached the spot.

“The mob, instigated by the political leaders, abused my parents with vulgar language and soon got violent and started to hit my mother and father. It was even hard for the police to take control over the mob. The police took my father in custody and forced my mother to lock herself inside the house. The mob then started to pelt stones and break the house,” said Aman.

The two boys confessed the crime and the reason behind the murder. “One of them is around seventeen years and the other is around 13 years of age,” revealed Aman.

After a statement by one of the boys who lived in the hostel – the police arrested Masih and Sarita Minz on 25 July. According to the police said Aman, the boy has given statements that such homosexual activity had been reported to Pastor Minz in the past by the hostel children, but no action was taken by them.

Aman said “there was a lot of political pressure on the police to put my parents behind bar” and also that “my father was threatened inside the police station by influential people to shut down his ministry completely”. 

There were 36 children living in the hostel including 12 girls. The hostel was run on the first floor of the building and on the floor below a regular Sunday worship service was conducted by Pastor Masih in a large hall.

The hostel which is presently sealed by the authorities was registered and run under the Bethany Rural Trust by the couple.

All the hostel children except four belonged to the Santhali tribe and came from very remote places deep inside the forest, almost 30 kilometers from Ghatshila where there is no facility for education. These children were sent to stay in Masih’s hostel which provided them boarding and lodging facility for a stipulated fee from their parents and the children attended the nearby Ghatshila school.

The couple have been serving in the area for 16 years after Masih left his service from the international organisation, Operation Mobilization.

Aman who visits his father in the Jamshedpur jail once a week told GCN that Masih is in touch with the seventeen-year-old boy inside the jail and is very concerned for the boy as he is ill-treated inside the jail by other prisoners. He requests for prayers for not only himself and his wife but also for the two boys facing hardship behind bars.