Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Right-wing extremism in India: Graham Staines' killing reminds us of dangers posed by extremist ideologies

Graham Staines and his two sons were burnt to death in their car on this day--January 23, 1999.

Though nineteen years have passed, it still evokes painful memories and remains a part of collective conscience of the nation.

It serves reminder to us that how extremist ideologies can turn people into such monsters that they would even go to the extent of killing innocent children.

Staines who hailed from Australia, had settled in India, and worked for leprosy patients. He was with his sons, Philip and Timothy, when an armed mob surrounded the vehicle and set it afire. The killings led to international outcry.

The man had dedicated himself to serve humanity and made India his home, yet, he was accused of luring locals towards Christianity. His wife Gladys rejected the charges that he converted people to Christianity.

Dara Singh, who was associated with Bajrang Dal, was held guilty in this case. The trial court gave him death sentence. However, the High Court didn't consider it a rarest of rare case, and instead of capital punishment, he was given life term in the year 2005.

The Supreme Court too upheld the decision, six years later. Despite the widespread outrage, right-wing forces have over the years continued to target Christians--either it is Dangs in Gujarat or attacks on Churches in Karnataka.

Singh is in jail. Shockingly, despite Dara Singh's involvement in the monstrous act and his conviction for it, several websites that claim to be dedicated to the cause of Hindutva, express support to Dara Singh.