Attacks on Christians in Orissa
Mrs Staines and daughter Esther at the funeral
An Australian missionary and his two sons who were burnt to death at the weekend in an attack allegedly led by Hindu extremists. The widow of an Australian missionary murdered by a Hindu mob has vowed to remain in India and continue her husband's work among lepers. Gladys Staines also denied that her husband Graham was involved in attempts to forcibly convert local tribes people in the state of Orissa.
The mob stopped Mr Staines fleeing the blazing jeep
All three were burnt alive in a station wagon. They were sleeping in it overnight in Manoharpur during an annual Christian event known as the jungle camp. They were, it seems, singled out to be killed, and forced back as they tried to escape.
Mr Staines and his sons died in a brutal attack,
Mr Staines, 58, and the couple's two young sons were burned to death at the weekend when a mob set fire to the jeep in which they were sleeping. More than 50 people have so far been arrested for the murders in the remote village of Monoharpur where Mr Staines was attending a Bible reading. The missionary had worked in India for more than 30 years. His wife has already forgiven the killers. Police have blamed the Hindu extremist group, Bajrang Dal, and launched a manhunt for a key activist Dara Singh, who they believe masterminded the attack.
Mrs Staines comforts her daughter at the burial of her husband and sons
The murders have put the ruling
party on the defensive
Thousands of mourners joined a silent funeral procession for the Australian missionary and his two sons who were killed at the weekend in an attack allegedly led by Hindu extremists.
Mourners from all different faiths attended the funeral
CONDEMNATIONS ATTACK BRUTAL MURDER
President KR Narayanan said in his address that Indian unity was based on a tradition "of tolerance, which is at once a pragmatic concept for living together and a philosophical concept of finding truth and goodness in every religion". "Long ago, Mahatma Gandhi put it very simply and I quote: 'I do not expect the India of my dream to develop one religion, that is, to be wholly Hindu, or wholly Christian, or wholly Mussalman (Muslim), but I wanted it to be wholly tolerant, with its religions working side by side with one another'." He described the latest murder "a monumental aberration from India's traditions of tolerance".
Part of the protest against religious intolerance
Christians protest in India
Tens of thousands of members of India's minority Christian community have taken part in protest rallies against what they say is a campaign of religiously motivated attacks by Hindu extremist groups. Christian activists say there have been more than 90 such attacks this year alone and they say the national government led by the Hindu Nationalists BJP is not doing enough to stop the violence. There are 23 million Christians in India in an estimated population of 970 million. India's Christians rarely if ever take to the streets in protest or even as a political gesture. But church leaders say they have never known such a period of religiously motivated violence. They say Hindu extremists feel they can act with impunity now that the Hindu nationalist BJP leads the coalition government in Delhi. BJP ministers say this simply is not true and they are taking action against anyone involved in religious or sectarian violence.