Twenty years of a ghastly murder
It is exactly 20 years today when India witnessed a ghastly crime against humanity. The barbaric face of the religious hatred was witnessed in Manoharpur village of Keonjhar district of Odisha where an Australian Chrisitian Missionary Graham Stains along with his two children, Phillip, 10 and Timothy, 6 were brutally burnt to death when they were sleeping in their vehicle. A crowd led by the Hindutva terror gang leader Dara Singh surrounded the vehicle and put it on fire. There was no chance for survival of the three. The nation woke up to this tragedy with the then President K R Narayanan condemning it and calling it a dark spot on our democracy.
This incident did not happen out of a blue. The situation was being created by the Hindutva groups for long blaming the Christians for converting the Dalits and tribal in the region. They blamed Graham Stains for engaging in conversion which according to them was creating deep unrest in those regions. Orrisa, those days, was being ruled by Congress Party and its chief minister J B Patnaik had the same dwindling approach which his party has shown over a period of time by allowing such goons to flourish and then playing the political maneuvering which ultimately resulted in Congress Party’s complete wipe out from the state but a change in ruling party did not change the anti christian violence instigated and fully supported by the Hinudtva groups as the state failed and the governments at the centers too did not bother too much. The current chief minister of the State, another Patnaik, son of former chief minister Biju Patnaik has rarely taken a stand against the brahmanical terrorism in the state unleashed by the Hindutva groups. The situation in Odisha is same as far as Christians are concern with the Hindutva groups playing divisive cards and the state government not able to take them head on. It reflect the growing pattern of indian state is a fight for power among the caste Hindus or the dominant groups at the cost of the minorities particularly Muslims and Christians. The other minorities like Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs are considered to be of Indian origin and hence the Sangh Parivar does not consider them outsiders. Actually, the Sanghis consider these three religion as part of Hinduism, which reflect in the speech of Amit Shah recently on the citizenship Bill, in Bengal when he said that the Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs dont need to be worry when they come from outside as citizenship will be automatically open to them. It clearly means that the current government very categorically take a religious line on citizenship issue which actually violate the basic preamble of the constitution of India.
On January 21st, 2011, Supreme Court upheld life sentence to Dara Singh and acquitted 11 others. The tragic part is that there is no way to penalise, a crowd. India has not yet provided a law which can penalise lynching or mass killings. Wee have no such law.
The point is that Gram Stains was a Christian missionary who came to Odisha in 1965 and fell in love with it. Like any other missionary, who devotes his life for the mission of Christianity or the God he believed in, Stains work for the Leprosy patient was appreciated by the government of India in 2005 when he was Awarded Padmsri. There is no doubt that he was part of an evangelical group but then right to practice and promote religion are also part of international laws and acknowledged by our constitution. People should be given a fair choice to chose their faith after attaining maturity or 18 years of age. Graham Stains was not spreading hatred. His wife mentioned that he was not into conversion but his motivation was to serve the leprosy patient as mother Teresa did. Many people do such charities to satisfy their spiritual needs.
If the Hindutva organisations were upset with his missionary work, they could have approached the government, filed a case and taken a legal path but that is now how Hindutva hatred and terror works in India. With media and state apparatus they plant narrative, cook stories and engage in physical intimidation when required, as they know, nothing would happen to them. The upper caste parties normally allow such things to happen and brahmanical bureaucracy and crony media always justifying such acts.
The most important part of this entire story, for me is, the response of Gladys Stains, wife of Graham Stains. I would say, when we were suffering in hatred, her love won. In this tragedy of highest nature when she lost her husband and two innocent children in the hands of barbarians where any one can turn a hatemonger, Gladys remained a replica of what I would say christian values of love and forgiveness. I think, whether this come from her religiosity, spiritualism or anything but that is remarkable to say the least. I have not seen such gesture from Indians. The others like Sonia Gandhi and even Priyanka’s example comes when they said, they have forgiven the killers of Rajiv Gandhi. Hate does not bring anything. Hate only create hate and kill all of us. Hindutva’s aggressive posturing and the way the leaders are propagating hatred will not yield any result for them. Ultimately, hatred will never win. Love conquer all. India remain ashamed of such barbaric killings and as an Indian we should salute to courage of conviction shown by Gladys Stains. She has dedicated her life for the cause of the people and we hope she will continue to have faith in humanity. Hope, one day, the hatemongers will realise that hatred against those who do not believe in your religion or are different than you, does not take you anywhere. India need more like Glady Stains so that love bloom everywhere and hatred is defeated.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
January 23rd, 2019