Graham Staines
Dr. Graham Stuart Staines (1941 – 22 January 1999) was an Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n Christian missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

  who along with his two sons Philip (aged 10) and Timothy (aged 6) were burnt to death by a gang while sleeping in his station wagon at Manoharpur village in Keonjhar district in Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 on January 1999. In 2003, the Hindu activist Dara Singh
Dara Singh (murderer)
Dara Singh is a Bajrang Dal member who was convicted for leading the religious mob who murdered Australian Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, Philip and Timothy on 22 January 1999...

 was convicted of leading the gang that murdered Staines and Singh is now serving life in prison. Stains is considered a martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

 by many Christians.

He had been working in Orissa among the tribal poor and especially with leprosy
Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

 patients since 1965. Hindu groups allege that he forcefully converted or lured many Hindus into Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, however Staines' widow Gladys Stains denied these allegations. She continued to live in India caring for leprosy patients until 2004 before going back to Australia. In 2005 she was awarded the second highest civilian honor in India, Padma Sree, in recognition for her work with leprosy patients in Orissa

Life history

Dr. Graham Stuart Staines was born in 1941 at Palmwoods, Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, Australia. He visited India in 1965 for the first time and joined Evangelical Missionary Society of Mayurbhanj
Evangelical Missionary Society of Mayurbhanj
The Evangelical Missionary Society of Mayurbhanj was established in 1895 at the instance of the then-Maharaja of Mayurbhanj. It is a registered Non-Government Organization in India. The society is also registered in Australia, and has run the Mayurbhanj Leprosy Home since 1982.-See also:* Graham...

 (EMSM), working in this remote tribal area, with a long history of missionary activity.

Staines took over the management of the Mission at Baripada
Baripada is a city and a municipality in Mayurbhanj district in the state of Orissa, India. Baripada is the district headquarters. It is a place to stay and tour the Mayurbhanj region, a region with one of the most important wildlife parks of India , lush valleys, forest lands and scores of ancient...

 in 1983. He also played a role in the establishment of the Mayurbhanj Leprosy Home as a registered society in 1982. He met Gladys
Gladys Staines
Gladys Staines is the widow of Australian missionary Graham Staines. Graham Staines was burnt alive along with their two sons Philip and Timothy in Orissa, India on 22 January 1999....

 June in 1981 while working for leprosy patients, and they married in 1983, and had worked together since then. They had three children, a daughter (Esther) and two sons (Philip and Timothy). Staines assisted in translating a part of the Bible into the Ho language
Ho language
Ho is a Munda language of the Austroasiatic language family spoken primarily in India by about 3,803,126 people. It is written with the Devanagari and the Varang Kshiti scripts. It is spoken by the Ho people. 0.103% of India's Population speaks this language as per the 2001 census.The Script was...

 of India, including proofreading the entire New Testament manuscript, though his focus was on a ministry to lepers.

He spoke fluent Oriya
Oriya language
Oriya , officially Odia from November, 2011, is an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is mainly spoken in the Indian states of Orissa and West Bengal...

 and was very popular among the patients whom he used to help after they were cured. He used to teach how to make mats out of rope and basket from Saboigrass and hand weaving.

Death and Reaction

On the night of 22 January 1999, Graham Staines had attended a jungle camp in Manoharpur, an annual gathering of Christians of the area for religious and social discourse. The village is situated on the border of the tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts of Orissa. He was on his way to Keonjhar with his sons, who had come back on holiday from their school at Ooty. They broke the journey for the camp, and spend the night in Manoharpur, sleeping in the vehicle because of the severe cold. Gladys had stayed back in Baripada.
According to reports, a mob of about 50 people, armed with axes and other implements, attacked the vehicle while Stains and the children were fast asleep and his station wagon
Station wagon
A station wagon is a body style variant of a sedan/saloon with its roof extended rearward over a shared passenger/cargo volume with access at the back via a third or fifth door , instead of a trunk lid...

 where he was sleeping was set afire by the mob. Graham, Philip and Timothy Staines were burnt alive. Some villagers tried to rescue Staines and his sons, but were unsuccessful. They tried to escape, but the mob allegedly prevented their attempt to escape.

His murder was widely condemned by religious and civic leaders, politicians, and journalists. The US-based Human Rights Watch accused the then Indian Government of failing to prevent violence against Christians, and of exploiting sectarian tensions for political ends. The organisation said attacks against Christians increased "significantly" since the "Hindu Nationalist" BJP came to power. The then Prime Minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee, who was a leader of BJP, condemned the "ghastly attack" and called for swift action to catch the killers. Published reports state that church leaders alleged the attacks were carried out at the behest of hardline Hindu organisations while the Hindu hardliners accused Christian missionaries of forcibly converting poor and low-caste Hindus and tribals. The convicted killer Dara Singh was treated as a hero and reportedly was protected by some of the villagers. In an interview with Hindustan Times, one of the accused killers, Mahendra Hembram, told that "they were provoked by the "corruption of tribal culture" by the missionaries, who they claimed fed villagers beef and gave women brassieres and sanitary towels."

In her affidavit before the Commission on the death of her husband and two sons Gladys Staines stated:
"The Lord God is always with me to guide me and help me to try to accomplish the work of Graham, but I sometimes wonder why Graham was killed and also what made his assassins to behave in such a brutal manner on the night of 22nd/23rd January 1999. It is far from my mind to punish the persons who were responsible for the death of my husband Graham and my two children. But it is my desire and hope that they would repent and would be reformed."

Supreme Court of India Judgement

A trial (sessions) court in Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa State, sentenced the convicted ring leader Dara Singh of the mob to death by hanging for killing Staines and his two sons. In 2005, the Orissa High Court commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. The Supreme Court upheld the High Court decision on 21 January 2011.

“In the case on hand, though Graham Staines and his two minor sons were burnt to death while they were sleeping inside a station wagon at Manoharpur, the intention was to teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities, namely, converting poor tribals to Christianity,” the court said. The Court stated "Our concept of secularism is that the State will have no religion. The State shall treat all religions and religious groups equally and with equal respect without in any manner interfering with their individual right of religion, faith and worship." Yet, condemning religious conversions, the Court also said "It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in someone`s belief by way of `use of force`, provocation, conversion, incitement or upon a flawed premise that one religion is better than the other".

Dismissing CBI's plea for death penalty to Singh, a Bench of Mr Justice P Sathasivam and Mr Justice BS Chauhan endorsed Orissa High Court's finding that his crime did not fall under the rarest of rare category. In its 76-page judgement, the court came out strongly against the practice of conversion.
However, four days later, on the 25th of January, 2011, the Supreme Court of India in a rare move expunged its own comments with regards to conversions from its Verdict.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.