Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images
'An act that belongs to the world's inventory of black deeds.'
This is how then President K R Narayanan described the killing of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons -- Philip, 11, and Timothy, 7 -- on January 22, 1999. The three were asleep in their car at Manoharpur in Keonjhar district of Orissa when a mob led by Dara Singh torched the vehicle.
The incident sparked national and international outrage; the central government set up a judicial commission headed by Supreme Court Justice D P Wadhwa to inquire into the crime.
The Wadhwa Commission felt Dara Singh was guilty but said no organisation played any role in the killings. It said though Staines was involved in spreading the gospel, he was not involved in conversions.
The case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation in March 1999. The CBI submitted its chargesheet against 18 people, including Dara Singh, on June 22, 1999.
But the Orissa police arrested Dara Singh from the forests of Mayurbhanj district a year after the crime, on January 31, 2000. Three other accused have not yet been arrested nearly five years after the murders.
On September 22 this year, District and Session Judge Mahendranath Patnaik sentenced Dara Singh to death; 12 others were given life sentences.
Text: Salil Kumar
Complete Coverage: The Graham Staines Murder Case