24 November, 2020

Dara, Martyr?

His conviction turns a potent weapon in the saffron fringe's conversion politics Updates

Sanjib Mukherjee
Dara, Martyr?
As a symbol of 'Hindu' pride, Dara Singh lost his appeal the day Superintendent of Police Y.B. Khurania fished him out—trembling with fear—out of the thick Thakurmunda forest. It wasn't exactly the image the saffron brigade would have wanted to project of this 'defender of faith'. But last fortnight, when district and sessions judge Mahendranath Patnaik convicted Ravindra Kumar Pal alias Dara Singh and 12 others in the brutal torching of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his sons Philip and Timothy on January 22, 1999, hope fluttered afresh in two camps: among those who wanted to see the guilty punished, and for those seeking to emboss the stamp of a 'martyr' on Dara Singh for political capital.

A small-timer from Etawah, UP, with a dozen-odd petty cases against him before the Staines murder, is all set to regain his status as the much-talked-about "Hindu militant". That is why his conviction has gladdened the hearts of many practising saffron politics in Orissa. If the halo of heroism is thrust upon Dara, this would give them a key talisman in their...


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