Life sentence upheld, the convicts escape death penalty
Gladys — wife of Australian missionary Graham Staines, who was burnt to death along with their two sons in Orissa over a decade ago — says she holds no bitterness towards the killers.
“Because of forgiveness, I hold no bitterness towards the persons who killed my family,” the 59 year-old woman told PTI in an e-mail.
Her remarks came a day after Dara Singh and Mahendra Hembram, the convicts in the case, escaped the death penalty with the Supreme Court ruling that the crime was not “rarest of rare” and upholding the life sentence awarded to them.
“Forgiveness is needed to check hatred and violence... God forgives but the earthly consequences of that sin continue... Forgiveness does not change the consequences for the wrong. [The two] should not be mixed up.
“Forgiving did not mean that the normal judicial process of India should not be followed,” Gladys, who was conferred the Padma Shri in 2005, said.
Gladys, who is currently staying in Australia with her daughter and father, said she would continue to serve the needy as was desired by Graham.
On January 22, 1999, Staines and his two minor sons — Philip (10) and Timothy (6) — were burnt to death by a mob at Manoharpur, Keonjhar district.
Dara Singh alias Rabindra Pal Singh, lodged in Keonjhar district jail, has claimed that he is innocent. “If it is [the life sentence] the verdict of the Supreme Court, I accept it. My conscience says I am innocent. But I will go by the court order,” a jail official said quoting Dara.