Dara, three others get life term
An Orissa court sentences Dara Singh and three of his associates to life imprisonment for the murder of Catholic priest Father Arul Doss in 1999, reports Soumyajit Pattnaik.Updated: Sep 23, 2007, 01:29 IST
An Orissa court on Saturday sentenced Dara Singh and three of his associates to life imprisonment for the murder of Catholic priest Father Arul Doss in 1999.
Dara, whose real name is Rabindra Kumar Pal, has already been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Orissa High Court for burning alive Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines and his two sons in January 1999. Dara's appeal is pending before the Supreme Court.
Mayurbhanj District Judge Sachidananda Sahu acquitted 17 others for lack of evidence in the Father Doss murder case.
The three associates of Dara are Jadunath Mohanto, Rajkishore Mohanto and Cheemma Ho.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the four convicts. Failure to pay will result in one more year in jail.
Father Arul Doss was attacked with arrows at Jamabani village in Mayurbhanj district on September 1, 1999.
The incident took place when Dara was on the run after killing Staines and his two sons.
The police had framed charges against 21 people, including Dara, in connection with Father Doss' murder. The court also pronounced the four guilty under sections 436 (mischief by fire and explosive substance with intent to destroy house), 452 (trespass after preparation for hurt, assault), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 147 (rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly) IPC for burning the church and other offences.
Dara's lawyer Prabhat Das said they will go for appeal. "We will appeal against this verdict in the Orissa High Court within 60 days." The trial in the Doss case began in September 2004 and a total of 23 witnesses were examined. Some of the witnesses told the court that Dara and some other accused were present in Jamabani village on the day of the crime.
One of the witnesses, Sukura Bankira, said Dara and his associates arrived in the village in the morning to look for cows and buffaloes on that day.
At night, the group led by Dara first smashed the lanterns in the village and entered the church. Bankira fled and took shelter in a nearby hill. He said he could see from the hill that the village church was set on fire. In the morning when Bankira returned, he found Father Doss dead.
Randaye Godasara, a woman witness, also identified Dara during the trial. She said she saw all the accused entering the village church, which was subsequently set ablaze. She said she found Father Doss' body lying near a banana tree the next morning.