India High Court Denies Bail for Missionary Killer

The India Supreme Court has denied bail for the Hindu activist currently serving a life sentence for the murder of an Australian missionary and his two teenaged sons more than eight years ago.

Ravinder Kumar Pal, whose adopted name is Dara Singh, had approached the high court to request bail to visit his seriously ailing mother.

On Tuesday, however, Justice Arijit Pasayat dismissed Singh's bail plea noting that he was already serving a life sentence in another murder case and granting him bail in one would not serve his purpose.

Singh, who had ties to Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council), was sentenced to a second life term in prison last month for killing a Catholic priest, Father Arul Doss, in the Jamabani village in Orissa state's Mayurbhanj district.

Doss was killed on September 1, 1999 after being chased, attacked, and struck down by arrows. According to the prosecution, Singh and his 20 other associates raided the Catholic Church at Jambani as villagers were celebrating ''Nuakhai.''

The attack on the 35-year-old Catholic priest took place about eight months after Singh instigated a Hindu mob to attack Australia missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons, Philip and Timothy, who were sleeping in their jeep parked on the outskirts of Manoharpur village in Orissa's Keonjhar district.

That night – Jan. 22, 1999 – the mob torched the jeep and burned the occupants alive. The incident tugged at the conscience of the nation and received global media coverage.

Since then, there have still been numerous reports of attacks against Christians in the predominantly Hindu state. While many are overlooked by the media, dozens of incidents of atrocities against minority communities are still taking place in the state considered to be one of the strongholds of Hindu fundamentalists. The state of Orissa, where Christians account for only 2 percent of the total population, is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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