Fourteen years after Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines and his two minor sons were burnt to death in sleep by a right wing mob, two of the absconding accused were arrested on Friday from Odisha’s Keonjhar district.
“Ghanshyam Mahanta, (37) and Ramjan Mahanta (34) were arrested on Friday morning during a raid by CBI officials and the Keonjhar police,” said district superintendent of police Kavita Jalan. The third accused is still at large.
In an incident that drew international outrage, Staines, 58, and his sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, 6, were burnt to death on January 22, 1999 by a mob led by Bajrang Dal activist Dara Singh, when they were asleep in their station wagon in front of a church in Manoharpur village in Keonjhar, around 400km northwest of Bhubaneswar.
A total of 18 people, including Dara Singh, were arrested for their involvement in the crime while three others were absconding.
In 2003, a designated CBI court in Bhubaneswar sentenced Singh to death and 12 others to life.
In 2005, the Orissa high court commuted Singh’s death sentence to life imprisonment. The court, however, retained the life imprisonment awarded to the other accused.
In 2011, the Supreme Court upheld Orissa high court’s life imprisonment to Singh and his accomplices.