Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Supreme Court has upheld the life imprisonment for Dara Singh, responsible for the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in Orissa in 1999. Even an accomplice of Singh, Mahendra Hembram, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), Sajan K. George, told AsiaNews that the GCIC welcomes the verdict of the Supreme Court to uphold the verdict against Dara Singh. The GCIC has always been against the death penalty, but we hope that Dara Singh serves his sentence in prison until the end of his days. "
The Central Bureau of investigation (CBI) wanted the death penalty for Singh, who was linked to extreme right-wing Hindu group Bajrang Dal. The GCIC has opposed the request for a death sentence. The wife of the slain pastor, Gladys Staines, had already forgiven Dara and his accomplices involved in the brutal murder of her husband and children. (20/01/2009 Widow of Graham Staines: "Do not give up hope, pray for India").
Twelve years ago, Graham Staines was burnt alive with his children aged eight and ten years in the small village of Manoharpur, in the tribal area of Orissa. Graham Staines had worked for thirty years with leprosy patients in Orissa, and was sleeping with his children in a car, on his journey home on a cold December night. A group of attackers poured petrol on the car, and burned them alive.
The Staines tried to escape, but the assailants, fifty in all, prevented them. A witness said the attackers shouted slogans in praise of Dara Singh, the Hindu movement and the god Hanuman.
In 2003 a court in Khurda judged all 13 accused guilty. Life in prison for everyone else, a death sentence for Dara Singh. In 2005, the Orissa High Court commuted the death penalty to life imprisonment, judged Hembran guilty and exonerated the others. (N.C.)