Dara Singh—lean, tanned, and stubble-faced—sits in police custody with a religious book about a Hindu god and personal items such as soap, sugar, and medicine just seized from his bag.
Evading police for more than a year, Singh was arrested in February for the murder of Australian Baptist missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in India's eastern Orissa state (CT, Sept. 6, 1999, p. 26).
Staines and his wife Gladys worked for more than three decades with leprosy patients in the Mayurbhanj area, where Gladys Staines continues that ministry (CT, Jan. 10, 2000, p. 32).Singh, whose real name is Rabindra Kumar Pal, is a petty criminal and self-proclaimed fundamentalist Hindu who moved from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh to Orissa in 1996. He would loot the minority Christian community and distribute the spoils—cattle and money—to the people who shared his beliefs.
"He is confessing to all the crimes," says Orissa's deputy inspector general. According to local authorities, Singh said he did not intend to kill Staines and the boys, but wanted to frighten Christian missionaries into curbing their conversions. Christian organizations in India, although relieved at the arrest, are concerned about continuing violence.
"The arrest does not end the campaign of hate and calumny," says John Dayal of the United Christian Forum for Human Rights (UCFHR) in New Delhi. "Dara is a product of a particular political ideology that preaches communal hatred."
In Punjab state, Vijay Bhardwaj—chief publicity manager of the Hindu nationalist organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)—blames the recent violence on missionaries, claiming they trap innocent, poor people into converting. "Dara worked for a good cause, but he shouldn't have killed. We will ...1
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