Murdered pastor pictured with his family in this undated photo.
NEW DELHI/HYDERABAD (BosNewsLife)-- Indian police detained several Christians in Andra Pradesh state Tuesday, January 14, as they tried to besiege the chief minister's office to protest the killing of an evangelical pastor by suspected Hindu militants, Indian media reported.
Christian leaders said some 3,000 people attended the rally, a day after 48-year-old Pastor Sanjeeva died of his injuries.
The pastor of the evangelical Hebron Church congregation was reportedly attacked by three or four suspected Hindu militants last Friday, January 11, at his home in the town of Vikarabad, some 64 kilometers (40 miles) outside the regional capital Hyderabad.
The attackers entered his home after asking for prayers, according to Christians familiar with the case.
They reportedly began beating the pastor and stabbed him seven times. The armed persons also attacked his wife, who managed to escape, according to rights investigators.
He was rushed to hospital but passed away of his injuries on Monday, January 13, leaving behind a wife and three children.
The pastor had been threatened before, said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Churches, a major mission and advocacy group.
"Approximately three months ago we know that Sanjeevulu had a heated discussion with some members of a Hindu fundamentalist group, who threatened him. It could be premeditated murder," he added in published remarks.
Amid mass protests and a funeral for the pastor, who used only one name, church officials and other Christian leaders urged Andra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy to support the detention of suspects "within 24 hours."
Police reportedly registered the case, but it was unclear whether any suspects had been detained Tuesday, January 14.
The murder underscores the Christian community's wider "shock with these heinous incidents happening among minorities," Christian leaders said following talks with the chief minister in Hyderabad.
Evangelical Christians are among devoted believers being targeted by Hindu groups, who have expressed concern about the spread of Christianity in India, a heavily Hindu nation of over 1 billion people. (With reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos).
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since 2004).