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Staines case: Dara Singh, 12 others found guilty
Giridhar Gopal in Bhubaneswar |
September 15, 2003 13:22 IST
Last Updated: September 15, 2003 17:20 IST
Main accused Dara Singh and 12 others have been found guilty in the Graham Staines murder case.
District and Sessions Judge Mahendra Nath Patnaik has acquitted one of the accused Anurudhha Dandapat. The quantum of sentence would be announced on September 22.
Dara Singh will appeal against the judgment, defence lawyer Banabihari Mohanty told rediff.com.
Security had been tightened in parts of the state in view of the verdict.
Dara Singh alias Rabindra Pal Singh is the son of Mihilal Pal of Kokara village, district Itawah in Uttar Pradesh. He was born on October 2, 1962.
He has an elder brother and four married sisters. The brother is employed with the National Thermal Power Corporation.
Dara Singh has a first-class degree in arts and is also well-versed in Hindi. Before coming to Orissa in the early nineties, he was working in Delhi where he got close to a co-worker Chittaranjan Das from Maliposhi in Orissa's Mayurbhanj district.
Dara Singh had also met Chittaranjan's elder brother Dipu Das when the latter visited Delhi.
In 1989, Dara Singh shifted to Maliposhi. After assisting Rama Das (Dipu Das's father) in his grocery business for some time, he got a job teaching Hindi in a local school.
Sporting a saffron tilak on his forehead and clad in a kurta pyjama, Singh became popular among tribals in Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj districts when he launched a campaign against cow slaughter and conversions.
He was also linked to the Bajrang Dal though a subsequent probe revealed that Dara Singh worked alone and not on behalf of any organisation.
He shot into the limelight after Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines (58) and his two minor sons Philip (10) and Timothy (6) were burnt to death on January 22, 1999 by a mob in Manoharpur village in Keonjhar district, about 400km from Bhubaneswar.
The mob was allegedly led by Dara Singh, who was arrested by the CBI almost a year after the incident. Police suspect locals helped him escape their dragnet for a year out of sympathy for his campaign against Muslims and Christians.
Singh was charged with involvement in over a dozen criminal cases, including the burning and looting of trucks carrying cattle and attacks on a Muslim businessman and a Roman Catholic priest after the Staines murder. He has been acquitted in at least three criminal cases.
His supporters have formed several organisations, including Dharmarakshak Dara Singh Sahayta Samiti, Dara Singh Parijan Suraksha Samiti, (Council for Aiding the Family of Dara Singh), Dharmarakhyak Sri Dara Singh Bachao Samiti (Committee to defend Dara Singh, the Protector of our Religion), Dara Sena (Dara's Army), claiming to espouse his cause. They describe him as the saviour of Hinduism.
They have also been circulating a 16-page booklet titled 'Mu Dara Singh Kahuchi' (This is Dara Singh speaking), which focuses on the activities of Staines and other Christian missionaries in the eastern state and how Dara Singh saved the Hindus.
The Graham Staines Murder Case: Complete CoverageMore reports from Orissa