Daughter of Martyr shot at, Jharkhand.
Armed men shoot at the daughter of Chamu Purty, who was shot dead by Naxalites in 2015.
Sonamati and her family hail from a village called Sandigaon which features in Kunti, a district in the Indian State of Jharkhand. She holds a job as a teacher to support her family of four-3 daughters and a son namely, Neelam, Angel, Sarita and Samuel. To avoid the dangers of daily travel, the family left their village to move closer to the city. However, this did not stop her from faithfully journeying back to her home village every Sunday to pray and fellowship with her church at the same home where her husband died in her arms.
She was recently asked to help with food distribution at a school to help the poor to cope with the nationwide lockdown set in place to curb the spread of the Corona Virus. As the school was close to her home village, she decided to move back to her house for a few days along with her children.
It had only been a couple of days since Sonamati and her children had returned to their native place. Welcomed back by her neighbors and fellow villagers, Sonamati tried to feel at home. However, memories of that fateful night when her husband, Chamu was shot dead by Naxalites, still haunted her and her family.
On the 16th of April 2020 at around 8:30pm, Samuel- Sonamati’s son was arranging the bedding for his mother and sisters to sleep on. His older sister, Neelam was reading a book while the other two chatted with their mother. Hearing a few knocks on the door, Samuel, who assumed that it was his friends, rushed to open the door. As Sonamati leaned forward to check, she was shocked to see a couple of armed men standing outside.
Disturbing memories from the past flooded her mind, as a shiver ran down her spine. These men with covered faces, then asked for Neelam, the oldest daughter. As a petrified Neelam stood up, one of the men asked her if she was involved in Christian Ministry like her father. She denied saying that she was now concentrating on College and her studies. Seemingly angry, he then replied in a loud voice, “didn’t’ we kill your father here?” Before Sonamati realized the gravity of the situation, she heard a gunfire- that familiar sound of death! Neelam was shot at. In a state of complete disbelief, Sonamati and her children screamed in fear.
Before the gunmen got away, Sonamati caught a glimpse of one of them as the cover over his face had accidently fallen off! He was dark with long hair. Remembering his face, she soon gathered her children and helped Neelam who was shot in her right thigh and was bleeding profusely. In the dead of the night they made their way through the dangerous jungle which is also a Naxalite den and cautiously struggled to reach the main road so that they could take Neelam to the Government hospital in Kunti. In the meantime, she informed Mukesh, a local Pastor and family friend, about the attack.
When Sonamati and her children reached the road, she managed to frantically convince a passerby to take them to the government hospital on his bike. When they reached there, Neelam was immediately attended to, however, the hospital couldn’t handle the seriousness of her case so she was referred to another hospital in the city of Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand. The medical staff then transferred Neelam and the family in an ambulance in which they made the 35km long journey to the next hospital.
The bullet was lodged inside her thigh for 3 whole days, until an operation was planned and successfully performed. A steel plate was inserted into her thigh to replace her thigh bone which the bullet had shattered. She also sustained injuries to her finger which was badly hurt while trying to protect her leg from the bullet shot.
Rev. Finny Samuel, who runs a church in Jhansi is the Jharkhand state coordinator for Persecution Relief. He was the first one to inform the founder of Persecution Relief, Mr. Shibu Thomas and efficiently took control of the situation. He along with Pastor Mukesh, coordinated with the doctors and Christians who willingly donated blood for Neelam’s surgery.
Sonamati being one of the many widows of Christian Martyrs whom Persecution Relief has adopted, expressed her indescribable grief as she spoke to Persecution Relief, “I am terrified about going back to my home and village. I would like to quit my Job and move far away from this place.” As all her Children hold jobs in different places, she mostly lives alone. Now after this ordeal, she doesn’t want to live by herself.
Pray for Sonamati and her family, that none of them would slip from God’s call upon their lives. Pray that they would draw out strength and courage from this painful and challenging experience, that God would use them mightily for the extension of His Kingdom. Pray that Neelam has a speedy and good recovery, and for God to continue to meet with all their needs.
We also want to remember the group of armed men who not only shot at Neelam but who also killed her father, Chamu Purty. Pray for God to have a divine appointment with them. Wherever they may be, they would come to the knowledge of a good and merciful Father who is willing to forgive them and offer them eternal life through Jesus Christ.
God in his abundance enabled The Persecution Relief family to help meet with all of Sonamati’s financial needs, they have plans of moving her to their headquarters where she can live in peace and safety. Being a vulnerable time when the world is battling a deadly virus, the entire family is staying at the hospital with no private hospital rooms and not enough food.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18. Indeed, a very challenging and difficult time, for anyone to go through a sad and frightening situation like this. It is a misconception to think that the world is now a safer place for Christians, owing to the restriction of movement due to the pandemic. Faithfully following Jesus Christ is an open invitation to persecution. Being a widow with 4 children is not an easy walk, especially in the country of India. How often do we find ourselves complaining about the petty problems in life? If Sonamati is able to still carry her cross and walk, what is hindering us? God’s grace always eclipses the expanse of our problems and sin, He promises to be with us until the very end.
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