Ramesh Raju has become a hero to the shell-shocked congregation of the Zion evangelical church in Batticaloa after he died stopping a suicide bomber who was bent on killing hundreds of people.
Nearly a week after the bombing, the road leading to Raju’s house in the eastern city is flanked by posters and photographs of the 40-year-old father of two who blocked the attacker at the church door.
A stream of well-wishers queue to express condolences to his widow, a Sunday school teacher.
Raju was one of 29 people, including 14 children, that media reports say died in the blast at Zion, one of three churches and three hotels targeted by Jihadist bombers.
But about 600 people who were inside at the time escaped the human bomb. The dead from the other two churches make up the majority of the 253 overall death toll.
“When he felt suspicious about the bomber he could have run away to safety but I think he chose to scuffle with him in order to stop him from entering the church,” his father Velusami Raju told AFP.
“I feel very proud that he saved so many lives, especially so many children,” he added.
The east coast city is thought to have become a target as the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) blamed for the attacks came from the region.
Zion church was packed at the time and there were dozens of children fresh from Sunday school. Raju had volunteered to help manage the crowds, according to witnesses.