Hindu Vivek Kendra

            The population in the district of Keonjhar as per the Census report of the year 1991 and also till 1998 (based on decennial growth rate) is as under :

Sr. No.
Category of Population
1991 Census
As on 1998 based on decennial growth rate
Hindus (which mostly include SCs/STs)
Christians (mostly STs)

            From the record, it appears that the motive for the crime was that there were conversions of illiterate and poor Hindu tribals to Christianity on certain premises but these conversions were not necessarily inspired by Staines.  We examine the evidence in this respect :

            Timothy Murmu @ Chaitanya Murmu, Pastor of the Church at Manoharpur said that no force was used on anybody for conversion.  He added that by becoming Christians economic conditions did not improve but persons who got converted "get inner peace and become better human beings".  As to how he himself became a Christian he said he was suffering from an acute illness of fever and some incurable disease for one year.  He remained bed ridden for one month, took lot of medicines and spent more than Rs.2,000/- for his treatment and yet he could not be cured.  He said his wife lost all hopes and then she heard that if a Christian prays for somebody, he would get cured.  His wife called some Christians to his house.  He, however, continued his medicines and within one week he was cured.  Then he decided to become a Christian.  He also said that in his village Manoharpur most of the persons who became Christians were those who in the past suffered from incurable illness but after becoming Christians they had been cured.  He gave the following instances of persons who were converted to Christianity on this account -.

1) Kebe's mother was dying from high fever and "we all prayed for her and she survived then the entire family got converted to Christianity".

2) Manaki Gargi was earlier Hindu.  In 1995 he became Christian but as he could not be cured of his high fever, he got reconverted to Hinduism.

3) Family of Kala Marandi remained Christian for 3 years. Her husband was suffering from some incurable disease.  He got cured when he became Christian.  One day he went to Thakurmunda by cycle and when he came back he died.  Kala Marandi then again became Hindu in 1998.

4) Nimai Hansda was suffering from fever. He came to him (Chaitanya Murmu) who told him that he was also suffering from fever but was cured after he became believer of Christianity.  Nimai Hansda was also taking medicines but after becoming a believer of Christianity he was cured.

In his deposition before the Commission, Chaitanya Murmu stated as under ..
            "In the year 1980, I had a severe attack of fever. I was not admitted in any hospital.  But I obtained some medicines from the Government dispensary at Thakurmunda.  When we Santhalis suffer from any ailment we offer, worship and sacrifice goats, sheep and chicken.  I suffered from fever for about 13 months and was not cured in spite of taking medicines and doing the above acts.  While I was in a dying condition, my wife called five members of the Christian community of my village who came and prayed for my betterment in my house.  Thereafter, I continued to take the same medicines which were prescribed to me earlier and was gradually cured.  Since then I began believing in Christianity."
            Paul Murmu a Pastor who accompanies Staines from Baripada stated that subject to availability Staines also attend baptism ceremonies and marriage ceremonies of Christian families in that area.  He said whenever Mr. Staines was unable to come, he would ask him to go and attend any such ceremony.  He said Mr. Staines would be intimated about the programme.  He allowed the vehicles to be used for the purpose.

            John Mathai , is a Linguist and is based at Baripada.  He is working for the Indian Evangelical Mission which has its headquarters at Bangalore.  He said if anybody accepts the Gospel and wants to come to the fold of Christianity, he would come to the Church leader and if the church leader considers that the person really wants to embrace Christianity, then after a few months baptism would be given to him. it is only then that a person becomes a Christian.  John Mathai said that though he was engaged in spreading Gospel in the Thakurmunda area, there was no specific hostility exhibited by the villagers against the foreigners in the Jungle Camp at Baliposi. He was asked if he could say what was the motive behind this hostility exhibited at the time of jungle camp in Baliposi.  His reply was that since Christianity was spreading in that area, that might be the reason for the hostility.  For the area, he said that he meant Thakurmunda.  In answer to another question as to what role Staines used to play during the jungle camp, he said that Staines used to arrange speakers and he himself would take Bible studies.  Sometimes, if necessary, Staines also used to translate from English to Oriya. John Mathai was looking after the affairs of EMSM in the absence of Staines who went to Australia with his family for about a year.  John Mathai said that EMSM was mainly involved in Leprosy Home work.  It was also supporting Staines in his mission to encourage Christianity at different places.  He added that by encouraging he meant if any person needed Bible teaching, Staines would arrange someone for the purpose.  At times he would also give suggestions if there were problems of local church leaders. John Mathai was then asked if he could describe the motive which led to the killing of Staines and his two children.  His answer was:

            "What I feel is that christianity is spreading in that area.  One, reason to kill them might be to stop the spread of christianity and those who had already become Christians would go back to their original religion."
            John Mathai also said that he did not think that Staines was ever responsible for establishment of any church group in the area of Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar.  He said that increase of population of Christians in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar was on account of conversion to Christianity.  This conversion, however, he said was among the Ho and Santhal tribes.  He was asked if this conversion to Christianity was confined mainly to illiterate and poor people in the tribal areas of Ho and Santhal and not to the educated and well to do persons in the Districts.  Answer of John Mathai was :
            "The conversion to christianity is mostly confined to poor and illiterate people in the tribal areas.  But there are educated people also in the tribal areas who have embraced christianity. I cannot say if in any town or city any educated or well to do person has embraced christianity.  There would be about 4-5 such educated persons in the tribal area who have embraced christianity."
            Nimai Hansda is a cultivator and resident of Manoharpur.  He himself earns about Rs.5 to Rs.20/- per day.  His children also collect Sal leaves, stitch and then sell them.  He said he was converted to Christianity two years earlier.  None of the members of his family have however. been converted to Christianity.  He said he was ailing for a long time and he was cured after he embraced Christianity.  He said all his family members advised him to convert to Christianity since his treatment in the Government hospital had failed.  Nimai Hansda said that his understanding of Christianity "is that one goes to church regularly and gets cured".  He added that after embracing Christianity, his financial condition has not 'improved.

            Nehemiah Tudu is from village Raika in Mayurbhanj and is a Pastor.  He is a cultivator and also works as a daily labourer.  He said he regularly attended the jungle camp at Raika and other jungle camps occasionally.  He said that about 200 people had been converted to Christianity after he became Pastor of Raika Church and half of them had been baptised and others had only accepted the faith.  As to how he himself became a Christian, He said:

            "When I was a Hindu, I was worshipping deities and believing the spirits of ghosts (Bhut-Pret).  In spite of my best attempts, i.e., offering goats, etc., as sacrifice, I could not get rid of the fear of spirits and could not get peace. I also spent lot of money for the same. I had heard from one Champai Besra, a Pastor of Mayurbhanj that if I believed in Lord Jesus, I would be free from the fear of spirits.  My brother Nathan Tudu was also having the fear of spirits and ghosts.  One day he went to the house of a Christian.  There, they prayed for him for half an hour thereafter his fear disappeared and he had a sound sleep at night.  Next day he came to me and narrated the incident.  Thereafter we started attending the church at Banki. I have been baptised."
            Manika Gagrai is of village Dumurdiha in District Keonjhar.  He said he was born in a Hindu Family.  He, his mother and his wife were suffering from fever. Sankhai Marandi, a Christian, who was known to him advised him to get converted to Christianity so that he could be cured.  Manika Gagrai adopted Christianity.  Sankhai Marandi also offered prayers at that time in his house.  Manika Gagrai said he had not been baptised but only became a believer of Christianity and attended church regularly.  He said his health became worse and he developed tuberculosis.  Staines visited him after he suffered from tuberculosis and advised him to take medicines which he took from a doctor at Karanjia.  He then developed blood pressure.  He said that thereafter none of the Christians helped him.  As he was not cured, he again got himself converted to Hinduism.  That was a week before the Makar Sankranti in the year 1999.  He said he got himself reconverted to Hinduism voluntarily.

            S.C. Bala, Deputy Superintendent of Police of the Crime Branch who investigated the case from 2nd February, 1999 till 7th April, 1999 was of the opinion that the motive of killings of Staines and his two children "appeared to be that non-Christian people were aggrieved on the ground that Christian fathers/missionaries who are converting the people to Christianity in a deceitful manner by giving allurements."

            Loknath Behra of the CBI stated that the crime was perpetrated by Dara Singh and his men and that investigation so far conducted revealed that Dara Singh took his accomplices for the crime by stating that "let us go and assault the Christian missionaries who have come to Manoharpur as they are indulging in conversion of innocent tribals to Christianity and are spoiling our religion and culture".

            Thus, the inference is :

1)    Conversion was confined to poor and illiterate tribals belonging to Ho and Santhal Tribes.

2)    Conversions were done of people who were suffering from acute ailments and they were nurturing a hope that they would be cured if they converted themselves to Christianity.

3)     Economic conditions of the converted Christians, however, did not show any improvement as deposed by the witnesses.  However, the Investigating Team found that since the converted Christians stopped taking 'handia' (rice beer) and saved money by avoiding unnecessary expenditure on 'bali' (sacrifice) of hens and goats to appease spirits which the local tribals believed in, their savings was utilised for a better life.

    'Tidings' is a newsletter published from Australia by Australian Missionary Tidings. it is a monthly publication and contains "Missionary Mail" from various countries from all over the world.  Despatches sent by Staines and his wife Gladys Staines were also published in each issue of the Tidings.  Some of the issues of Tidings were collected by the investigating Team of the Commission from Gladys Staines.  A communication was addressed by Mr. D.G R Patnalk, Secretary to the Commission, to Mr. Ralf James Cameron, President, Evangelical Missionary Society of Mayurbhanj, Australia to send to the Commission copies of 'Tidings' from January, 1996 to February, 1999 containing information relating to the Mission in Mayurbhanj.  A reminder was also sent to Mr. Cameron by Mr. Patnaik on 17th May, 1999.  There has, however, been no response to the fax messages sent by Mr. Patnaik.  The issues of 'Tidings', which were obtained from Mrs. Staines were put to her during her statement.  It will be advantageous to reproduce what has been recorded in these issues from the despatches from Staines :-
"JUNE, 1997

Graham and Gladys Staines
Mayurbhanj, 25 April

            The first jungle camp in Ramchandrapur was a fruitful time and the Spirit of God worked among the people.  About 100 attended and some were baptised at the camp.

            At present Misayel and some of the church leaders are touring a number of places where people are asking for baptism.  Five were baptised at Bigonbadi.

            Pray for the Etani Trust in which the mission properties are vested.  One man managed by underhand means to get parts of the properly in his own name and a number of nominal Christians of the Baripada church are also trying to get some of this valuable property for themselves.  The Trust is having to take legal action to rectify this."


"Graham and Gladys Staines
Mayurbhanj, 23 July

            Praise God for answered prayer in the recent Jagganath car festival at Baripada.  A good team of preachers came from the village churches and four OM workers helped in the second part of the festival.  There were record book sales, so a lot of literature has gone into people's hand.

            Pray for a man named Surja Singh who bought a Bible.  He first heard the gospel in his home village in 1989.  He told others to follow Christ, but did not do so himself.  For some time he had been wondering where he could get a Bible to read again about the Lord, who he believes is the only one who can deliver him from the fear of evil spirits."


"Graham and Gladys Staines
Mayurbhanj, 19 September

            Praise God we now have the Ho New Testament in Oriya script and many copies are now in the hands of the Ho people.  Pray that it will be used of God to speak to many as they read his word in their own language.

            The wife of Surga Singh, the new believer from the Car Festival, is also interested but it is a slow process for an illiterate mother to understand so much that is new.  Pray for them as they plan to move soon to Bhubaneswar and are concerned about finding fellowship and teaching there.

            The Ho believers in Thakurmunda still face persecution. From time to time the village people
have beaten them  up, broken their bicycles and not allowed them to worship in their own church building. Three people came to Baripada to meet district officials and petition for justice.  Pray that action will be taken to allow freedom to worship.

APRIL, 1998

"Graham and Gladys Staines
Mayurbhanj, 11 February

            Jungle Camp means four days of Bible teaching, prayer and the fellowship of Christians living together.  It enables believers from other churches to meet with local Christians to discus experiences and encourage one another.  Also speakers from other places broaden the vision of those whose lives have been confined to one small village.  The teaching helps the church leaders to further develop material for their own regular ministry.

            The camp can also create hunger in the hearts of those who come just to observe.  Each camp has a bookstall, which for many is the only chance to buy Christian literature.

            The three camps held so far this year were well attended and others are to be held in the next few months. There are different needs in each place. Pray for wisdom for the leaders and responsive hearts in the people.

            One lady commented after reading some of the Ho New Testament - 'God's word is just so fresh and new to me as I read it now'.  It was also encouraging to see so many Ho people following the references in the Ho New Testament during the messages at Sarat Jungle Camp. We sold all the New Testaments we took there.

            22 February - We have just arrived home from the Baliposi camp a day early.  Some people from a militant Hindu group who are persecuting the Christians came to the camp but were not able to disturb the meetings.  On the last evening the police came and told us to stop the meeting and leave, as they would not be able to protect us.  We had to pack up quickly and leave for a three-hour trip home, without eating any evening meal.  Pray for the believers at Baliposi and that the authorities will take proper steps to maintain peace and deal with those stirring up communal strife."

MAY, 1998

"Graham and Gladys Staines
Mayurbhanj, 20 March

            Six men came to Baripada to speak with officials in the intelligence department regarding the tension in the Thakurmunda area.  Pray that appropriate steps will be taken to ease the situation and that God will work in the lives of the troublemakers.

            Over the next two months there will be a programme of baptism in nearby villages for those asking for them.  These are times of witness to non-Christians too."


"Graham and Gladys Staines
Mayurbhanj, 19 May

            There are many new believers in the Manoharpur church and the work is growing.  The devil is now finding opportunity to hinder the work of God.  There is disagreement between the young people and the older men of the church.  A problem arose about the land on which the church is built and the planned Vacation Bible School had to be cancelled.  Last year more than 100 children attended this programme.

            The translation of Daily Life into Oriya is complete.  Pray for the checking of the text and that the printing will be done well and speedily.

            We have been told that a militant Hindu group plans to concentrate on Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts to turn Christians back to Hinduism.  Pray for wisdom, grace and steadfastness for all God's children."

AUGUST, 1998

"Graham and Gladys Staines
Mayurbhanj, 19 June

            In many churches here Sunday schools have ceased to function. I have been advocating these and at a recent church leaders meeting I heard that some have re-started this work.  It is often difficult to find the right ones to conduct Sunday school and mostly they have to do it without materials as very little is available.

            The Vacation Bible School that was to be held in Manoharpur was cancelled because of problems in the church there.  Two hundred and eight children registered for the one at Raika, but because of the extreme heat only 120 came.  It was an excellent time and some young people who teach in VBS are being trained and encouraged for children's work and Sunday school."


"Graham and Gladys Staines
Mayurbhanj, 21 August

            Recently Paul, Matthew, Nehemiah and Misayel went to Deleswar church near Sarat where they encouraged the believers and talked about some problems.  The leaders there are still unstable.  Some young who asked for baptism were found not to be ready.

            There are still divisions in the church at Manoharpur and the churches at Durakuntia and Burudi are very weak.

            It is lovely to see the little girls being cared for in the Rairangpur hostel.  They have a wonderful opportunity to learn to read and to learn of the Lord.

            Paper work for the hostel extension has been submitted to the offices of the government authorities.  Pray that it can be built soon to provide more accommodation."


"Graham and Gladys Staines
Mayurbhanj, 18 September

            Four men visited Manoharpur church to discuss the problems there and much was sorted out.  A man who seems to want to be the head of the church wants to bring in or join with two other groups who do not teach and walk according to the scriptures.  Others in the church, particularly young men, who were following this man, now do not do so.  Pray for wisdom and grace for Timothy who leads the church there.

            There has been good rain here recently, though it is too late for much of the rich crop."


"Graham and Gladys Staines
Mayurbhanj, 19 December

            It is encouraging to hear of some improvement in the church at Manoharpur and that they are preparing for the jungle camp.

            Misayel, Paul and Nehemiah visited Patna in early December but as many were away rice harvesting they could meet only with a few.  They were able to encourage a new believer who had been a priest of the Sana Dhoram, an animist sect.  The village people pleased with him not to become a Christian, saying, 'How can we continue our worship if you leave us?' 'You can do so you like, but I am following Christ' he said.  Continue to pray.  God is working."

            Staines in his despatches to the 'Tidings', which are on record, has made reference to militant Hindu group twice. In the issue of April, 1998 there is reference to a communication dated 22nd February, 1998 from Staines.  In that he said that he had arrived from Baliposi camp a day earlier as "some people from a 'militant Hindu group' who were persecuting the Christian, came to the camp but were not able to disturb the meeting".  Similarly, in the issue of July 1998 Staines wrote "We have been told that a 'militant Hindu group' plans to concentrate on Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar to win Christians back to Hinduism".  Earlier in November 1997 issue Staines complained that Ho believers in Thakurmunda "still face persecution" and from time to time the village people have beaten them up, broken their bicycles and not allowed them to worship in their own church building.  It is IEM which is active in Thakurmunda area and activities of EMSM are not confined to this area, This is from the statement of Gladys and also from the statement of John Mathai.  Baliposi camp is organized by IEM in Thakurmunda area.

            In her statement Gladys was unable to identify as to which 'militant Hindu group' Staines made reference.  However, on the basis of various intelligence reports emanating from the police it does appear to me that reference to 'militant Hindu group' has perhaps been to the Bajrang Dal.  As held earlier, there is no evidence that Bajrang Dal is involved in the present gruesome murder of Staines and his two little children.  Moreover, in his statement Pratap Chandra Sarangi, who is State Coordinator of Bajrang Dal in Orissa, was categorical that re-conversion to Hinduism is not one of the objects of Bajrang Dal. In his affidavit he had stated that Bajrang Dal was not involved in the gruesome murder and that Dara Singh was never a member of the Bajrang Dal.  Sarangi stated that Bajrang Dal is an independent forum associated with Vishwa Hindu Parishad.  He described the objectives and activities of the Bajrang Dal.  It is not necessary to go into that as Bajrang Dal is not an unlawful organization.

From these issues of the 'Tidings', following circumstances emerge:

1.    Jungle Camps were regular features in the Districts of Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar.  Jungle Camp means four days of Bible teaching, prayer and the fellowship of Christians living together.  It enables believers from other churches to meet with local Christians to discuss experiences and encourage one another.  Also speakers from other places broaden the vision of those whose lives have been confined to one small village.  The teaching helps the church leaders to further develop material for their own regular ministry.

        The camp can also create hunger in the hearts of those who come just to observe. Each camp has a bookstall, which for many is the only chance to buy Christian literature.

2.    Conversions did take place in Jungle Camps.  These conversions were not caused by any threat, inducement or duress.

3.    There was dispute among Church leaders of Manoharpur Church and attempts were made to sort out the differences among them.  Differences were so acute that the Vacation Bible School which was to be held in Manoharpur was cancelled.  There was tension in Thakurmunda area between Christians and non-Christians.

4.    From July 1998 issue, it does appear that persons, who had been converted to Christianity were Hindus.

5.    Though Staines was involved in ceremonies connected with baptism it was not 'that he would baptise persons who are not true believers.  In the issue of Tidings of October 1999, he reported that some young people who asked for baptism were not found to be ready".

6.    In the issue of January-February 1999 he mentions Sanatan Dharam (Sana Dharam) as an animist sect.

7.    Tension was brewing between Christian and non-Christian villagers because of the spread of Christianity.

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