OFMI – Documentary exposes Hindu nationalist persecution of Indian Christians

Murder of Australian missionary family among many atrocities

New Delhi – India, 04 May 2020. Investigating the ongoing wave of Christian persecution in India, a new documentary highlights the tragic 1999 murder of an Australian missionary and his two young sons to expose the violence perpetrated by Hindu nationalists against minorities.

Graham Staines devoted over 30 years of his life to serving lepers in Odisha, India alongside his family. “Their work caught the attention of many, including one Dara Singh,” says activist Jada Bernard as he narrates the documentary. “Dara considered their charitable labors to be an attack on his homeland, and sought to end not only the work, but also the lives of the workers.”

A member of the religious militant organization, Bajrang Dal, Dara led a mob of 50 who burned Staines and his sons Phillip (10) and Timothy (6) alive while they slept in their station wagon. “Sadly, Philip and Timothy were not the first Christians murdered for being non-Hindu in India, nor were they the last,” explains Bernard.

In the 15-minute documentary, Bernard describes how violence against minorities is integral to the activities of Hindu nationalist groups, like Bajrang Dal, which operate under the umbrella of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) paramilitary.

“Hindutva is a specific type of radical religious nationalism bent on ‘cleansing’ India of non-Hindus,” says Bernard. “The Hindutva ideology lives as a menace in murderous mobs, but its place in India’s legal framework is secured in anti-conversion laws, which now restrict religious freedom in over a third of Indian states.

Homes and churches are destroyed with constant false accusations of forced conversions. Christian pastors are forced to renounce their Christianity, and if they refuse, they are tortured, burned with acid, even dismembered for their faith.”

Entitled “Remembering the Staines,” the documentary’s release follows the 21st anniversary of the murder of the Staines, which occurred on the night of January 22, 1999.

“Violence against minorities is integral to the activities of the Sangh groups, and only grows more frequent as the Sangh fills the seats of power in India’s national government,” warns Bernard.

He describes how Pratap Sarangi is now a cabinet minister in the Central Government despite leading the Bajrang Dal in Odisha during the murder as well as being repeatedly implicated in and arrested for numerous crimes against minorities.

“This film urges everyone to share this information with their legislators and policy-makers,” says Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India. “Those elected officials, especially in the US, should be made aware of how the Sangh has put down roots in society and politics in America and globally.

There are US congressional representatives who are bought and sold by the same organizations responsible for the massacre of Christians and murder of pastors and missionaries like Graham Staines and his young boys.

We hope this documentary draws greater awareness to the plight of Christians and other minorities in India, but we also want it to highlight the threat of Hindutva and inspire people to work to uproot that violent, supremacist ideology all over the globe.”

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity. Visit OFMI.org for more information.