Graham Stuart Staines was an Australian missionary who ran a leprosy house in India. On the night of January 22, 1999, he and his two sons, seven and nine years old, were asleep in a station wagon when a crowd of people surrounded them and set the car on fire, burning them alive. Eighteen people were charged with this crime and thirteen of them were convicted. Dara Singh was found guilty of leading the attack and was sentenced to death and the other twelve participants were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Last week, the Orissa High Court commuted Dara Singh's death sentence to life imprisonment and acquitted eleven of the other participants. Dara Singh, a Hindu extremist who is facing another trial for the murders of a Muslim merchant and another Christian missionary, says he hates missionaries because, according to him, they induce people to convert; he also hates Muslims because, as he says, they target his religion and they target cows; and he has no regrets over the deaths of the Staines children.
The state of Orissa is currently led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu party defined as “the political wing" of extremist and fundamentalist groups. In the last ten years, Christian-owned churches and homes have been burned down in Orissa and several Christians have been killed; in the last five months alone, two Christian pastors have been murdered.