Hindu Vivek Kendra
How Staines met his tragic end

            From the evidence of the witnesses, who had deposed before the Commission, and, the materials collected by the Investigation Team and the record before the commission, the following picture emerges as to how Staines and his two small children Philip (12 years) and Timothy (8 years) met their tragic end.

            On the 20th of January, 1999, Staines left the Mission House at Baripada at around 4.00 P.M. for Manoharpur to attend the jungle camp scheduled to be held from 21st January, 1999 to 24th January, 1999.  Staines was accompanied by his two minor sons Philip and Timothy.  They were also accompanied by Gilbert Venz from Australia, Shubhankar Ghosh from Cuttack, Victor Khojee from Kanpur, Rajendra Swain from Cuttack, Nimai Hansda and Peter Murmu, his drivers and Baiyu Hembram and Paul Murmu from Baripada.

            Little did Staines realise that he and his two minor sons were bidding Gladys and Esther the final adieu.

            The group travelled in two jeeps.  ORM 952 carried Staines, his two sons, Gilbert Venz, Rajendra Swain, Victor Khojee and Shubhankar Ghosh and ORM 1208 carried the drivers Nimai Hansda and Peter Murmu, Paul Murmu and Baiyu Hembram.  The group reached Manoharpur at around 9.00 P.M. As per his usual practice, Staines and his two children slept in the station wagon ORM 1208.  Staines had however covered the roof of the station wagon with straw to act as insulation from the cold.  Shubhankar Ghosh and Gilbert Venz stayed in the house of Samson Marandi.  Others stayed in the thatched huts behind the Church.  On the next day, i.e. the 21st January 1999, the jungle camp began.  It included various programmes such as group counselling, scriptural teaching, hygiene and moral lessons.  The day ended with a slide show after which Staines with his two sons retired to the station wagon i.e. ORM 1208.  On the next day i.e. the 22nd January 1999, the jungle camp continued as usual and ended with a slide show in the evening  After the slide show was over, the participants had their dinner.  Thereafter, Staines wished Shubhankar Ghosh, Gilbert Venz and others good night at around 9.45 PM.  The children were already in the jeep by then.  Shubhankar Ghosh, Gilbert Venz and the others then retired to their respective places of dwelling for the night.

            The venue and time of the holding of the jungle camp is normally decided at a meeting of pastors at the Raika church in Mayurbhanj District.  The jungle camp at Manoharpur is an annual feature and is held from the first Wednesday till the Sunday after Makar Shankranthi, which falls in January every year.  According to Shubhankar Ghosh, this year the dates of the jungle camp were communicated to him by Staines.  The holding of the Jungle Camps is known to everyone in the area.

            While the jungle camp was so peacefully being conducted, unknown to Staines, a plot to liquidate him was being hatched.  Investigations and evidence before the Commission reveal that Dara Singh, a notorious criminal (as per police records) of Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj was busy mobilising tribal youth from different villages in the area to form a militant group under his leadership.  Dipu Das (a close associate of Dara Singh) in his interrogation reveals that youth from Gayalmunda and Bhalughera had approached Dara Singh sometime in August 1998 to stop the Christians from converting Hindus to Christianity.  Dipu Das also recounts that he and Dara Singh went to Manoharpur in December and stayed in the house of Mahendra Hembram where they discussed about the Christians and Mahendra Hembrem showed them the Church.  Dipu Das during his interrogation, however, states that the date 22nd January, 1999 had already been fixed.  He revealed that some time in January, 1999 he and Dara Singh went to Gayalmunda and met Ghanasham Mohanta @ Ghana.  In the evening he, Dara Singh, Abhi and Ghana held a meeting with some local boys.  They were about 12/15 persons.  Dara Singh said that they had to stop conversion at Manoharpur by any means to which the Gayalmunda boys agreed.  Dara Singh told those boys to arrange more men and it was that time it was decided that on 22nd there would be attack on the Christian missionaries.  Dara Singh began his preparations for the crime on the 20th January 1999.  He met Purnachandra Mahanta at Telnadi Sahi and asked him to accompany him to Manoharpur.  When Purnachandra Mahanta refused, Dara Singh then asked him to arrange 10-12 boys for him and this also he refused.  Karthik Lohar during his interrogation reveals that - on 21st January 1999, around noon Dara Singh along with Dipu Das, Abi Mohanta, Kartik Lohar and others were assembled in the field of Srikant Purthy, when Dara Singh told them that Christian pastors, who were at Manoharpur, were converting their people and that they would be assaulted that night.  On the request of Dara Singh one person from the Purthy family went to Manoharpur to see whether the Christian missionaries had arrived.  He returned and informed Dara Singh about their being present in the village.  As Dara Singh could not assemble enough people that night except for about six to eight persons, he abandoned his plans for the night and stayed on in the house of Srikant Purthy.  On 22nd January, 1999 Dara Singh began gathering his forces in right ernest.  They divided themselves into groups to mobilise people.  Dara Singh and Kartik Lohar went to Remilidiha whereas Dipu Das and Andha Naik went to Bharandiha village.  Dara Singh also banked upon known acquaintances for the purpose.  Mahendra Hembram one such acquaintance of Dara Singh and a resident of Manoharpur brought Chenchu Hansda to Remilidiha where Dara Singh was addressing a gathering of about 10-15, people under a mango tree close to the cycle repair shop of Peon Tudu and the discussions were about Christians converting Hindus into Christianity.  Satya Soren reveals that he saw Dara Singh along with Kartik Lohar, Surath Naik and Trinath Naik and two boys from Manoharpur (Chenchu Hansda and Mahendra Hembram) at around 2.00 P.M at the same spot who said that "Christian pastors are destroying the Hindu religion.  They have come to Manoharpur and we shall assault to kill them and set fire to the vehicles and the Church as well.  All of you kindly help me".  He also asked the people around film to assemble near the house of a Munda at Jamdwar (Srikant Purty's house) where a fire would be lit.  Interrogation of Chenchu Hansda reveals that Dara Singh and his associates then started making preparations for that night.  Mahendra Hembram of Manoharpur, an associate of Dara Singh, took a loan of Rs 200/- from Sonaram Marandi, who was a classmate of his.  Mahendra Hembram gave that money to Chenchu Hansda and asked him to buy flattened rice and sugar.  Accordingly Chenchu purchased about 10-12 Kgs of beaten rice and about 2/3 Kgs of sugar from the shop of Driver Pradhan @ Bhrungu in Panasadiha village.  This was then kept in the house of Routra Purthy (father of Srikant Purthy).  Chenchu Hansda returned to Manoharpur at around 3 PM only to go back to Jamdwar later in the evening with his uncle Ojen , both of them being asked to go there by Mahendra Hembram who also accompanied them.

            Around 8.00 pm. in the evening the mob started gathering in the wheat field of Srikant Purthy at Jamdwar in Dimridiha near the fire which was lit there.  They came in batches and the number grew to around 30-35 people.  Rabi Soren in his statement under section 164 Cr.P.C. talks about assembling at Dimridiha and that they borrowed utensils from Srikant Purty and prepared a meal out of flattened rice and sugar, which had been earlier brought by Chenchu Hansda.  On being questioned by Srikant Purty, Dara Singh claimed that they were going to stage a drama at village Puthujhuri, the road to which passes through Manoharpur.  Dipu Das revealed that on Dara Singh's instructions Abhi Mahanta brought red cloth bands which were distributed amongst the mob.  Dara Singh then took a head count.  The mob then led by Dara Singh proceeded to Manoharpur at around 11.00 P.M. Some of them took lathis, which were lying, in the field and about 10 or 12 of them were carrying torches.  Srikant Purthy and Rajendra Hembrem say that Dara Singh was carrying a cloth bag and an axe.  According to Dipu Das the mob divided itself into three groups, one group was to attack the jeeps, the other was to attack the tent in which the missionaries were staying and the third to guard the villagers and their houses.

            On reaching the Church around midnight the mob did not see any tent.  They surrounded both the vehicles and started banging them with lathis.  Dara Singh, who led the first group, attacked the vehicle ORM-952.  They were joined by the second group who reached immediately afterwards.  Third group was guarding the houses.  They cut the tyres of the vehicles.  On realising that there was nobody in vehicle ORM-952 Dara Singh diverted his attention to the vehicle ORM 1208.  The mob then tried to open the door of the driver of that vehicle, which they could not do but the door lever was broken.  They broke the glasses of the vehicles. The mob then picked up the straw, which was kept on the top of the vehicle, and pushed the same inside as by now the glass-panes had been broken.  Straw was put both inside and under the vehicles and then set on fire.  Staines and his children attempted to come out but were prevented from doing so by the mob.  Staines shouted and children cried.  After the vehicles were put on fire, the mob guarded them for about half an hour and watched Staines and his two minor children meeting their gruesome end.  Members of the third group, who were guarding the various exits of the houses of nearby people prevented villagers from coming out and threatened them as well.  Nimai Hansda, who had come out and wanted to put out the fire, was threatened and given lathi blows.  He retreated.  The mob threatened the people in the vicinity and warned them not to come out and focussed torches on the eyes of those who tried to come out and chased them back.  However, few people attempted to come and help rescue Staines.  While all this was happening there was a tribal dance being performed in the near vicinity about 100 yards away.  Ojen and Chenchu Hansda of Manoharpur village during their interrogation said that they followed the mob from Dimridiha and when the mob attacked the vehicles and set them on fire they watched the same helplessly, got scared and ran towards the place where Nagin dance was being performed.  Persons, who were participating the dance, stopped and asked Ojen and Chenchu as to what was happening.  They told them that only Christians were being attacked and no harm would come to them and that they should do nothing to help them, Chenchu also during his interrogation said that from distance he could see that Dara Singh and others tried to reach into the vehicles and by that time the vehicles also started burning.  Staines and his two children died from suffocation and result of the burning.

            Soloman Marandi says that Dara Singh was giving directions to the mob.  He also identified the photographs of Dara Singh.  Similarly, Ragunath Dehury also identifies Dara Singh's photograph and states that he was present at the scene of occurrence on that fateful night.  Rabi Soren in his statement under section 164 Cr PC says that Dara Singh was present at Manoharpur at that night and that he took the straw from the top of the jeep and put it inside the vehicle and set it on fire with the matchbox.

            After Staines and his two sons were burnt to death, the mob left when a whistle was blown three times.  While leaving they shouted slogans "Jai Bajrang Bali" and "Dara Singh Zindabad".  Dipu Das reveals that after the incident they went to the Purty's house (Srikant Purty) where they had kept their cycles and dispersed from there.  He alongwith Dara Singh went to the garden of Debendra Mohanta the next day and told him everything.  Debendra Mohanta in his statement under section 164 Cr PC states that Dara Singh did tell him that he had come back from Manoharpur "after finishing a job".  Abhimanyu Mohanta of village Rohiniduma in his statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C. recorded on 15th June, 1999 said that Dara Singh did confess before him of having committed the crime.  This lie did so few days after the incident.  At that time he was accompanied by Dipu and Andha Naik.  Bidyadhar Mohanta of village Dalapaka in his statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C. recorded on 17th June, 1999 said that some boys from Gayalmunda and Bhalughera told Dara Singh in his presence that Christian missionaries were converting Hindus and that they were destroying Hindu religion.  They asked Dara Singh to deal with the missionaries properly to which Dara Singh replied that Christian would be dealt with if everybody cooperated with him.  He told them that they would be properly assaulted and they would not come to Manoharpur again.  In his letter to his sister-in-law Mahendra Hembrum admitted his involvement in the gruesome killings of Staines and his sons.  The following witnesses before the Commission speak about the incident and support the above narration.

1.     Srikant Purthy (W-28)

2.     Rajendra Hembram (W-44)

3.     Purna Chandra Mohanta (W-29)

4.     Satya Soren (W-36)

5.     Shubhankar Ghosh (W-1)

6.     Nimai Hansda (W-6)

7.     Ralia Soren (W-7)

8.     Peter Murmu (W-10)

9.     Paul Murmu (W-11)

10.   Samson Marandi (W-16)

11.  Mathai Marandi (W-40)

12.  Raghunath Dehuri (W-41)

13.  Solomon Marandi (W-42)

14.  Debendra Mohanta (W-34)

Reference has also been made to interrogation of the accused and statements recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C. and those recorded under Section 161 Cr.P.C. of the following persons'. -

1.     Karthik Lohar

2.     Chenchu @ Sudarshan Hansda

3.     Ojen Hansda

4.     Dipu Das

5.     Turam Ho (164 Cr.P.C.)

6.     Rabi Soren (164 Cr.P.C.)

7.     Abhimanyu Mohanta (161 Cr.P.C.)

8.     Umakant Bhoi (161 Cr.P.C.)

9.     Bidyadhar Mohanta (161 Cr.P.C.)

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