Minister Pratap Sarangi has blood on his hands; an austere life is not a life without crime

Pratap Sarangi, who was involved in the murder of Graham Staines has been made a Union minister. It is perhaps only a matter of time before Pragya Thakur is made one too

Pratap Sarangi (Social media)
Pratap Sarangi (Social media)

Ashlin Mathew

All it takes to fool people these days is a thatched home, white kurta-pajama and a bicycle. Pratap Sarangi who was only known to the Sangh Parivar in Odisha till last week has suddenly become a media sensation after it was reported that he was leaving his hut wearing seemingly old clothes with very few belongings to take oath.

Many newspapers went overboard and called him a social media hero because of his austere life. Because most of our ministers flaunt their wealth, arrive in foreign cars and hob-nob with the rich, our standards have become so low that we are willing to adopt and praise anyone who hasn’t trodden that path.

This 64-year-old man, who won the Balasore parliamentary seat in Odisha, on a BJP ticket has been appointed as Minister of State in two ministries: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.

His history has been conveniently forgotten and white-washed. Sarangi was the chief of the Bajrang Dal in Odisha in 1999 when Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, aged 11 and 7, were burnt alive by a group of men with links to the Bajrang Dal. It must not be forgotten that the three of them were sleeping in the car when it was set on fire. A gruesome and cruel act, which is definitely devoid of any spirituality. Dara Singh of Bajrang Dal has been convicted in the case.

At that time, he had also stated that the investigating agency had not done the investigation properly. “The investigation must start from scratch and take into account circumstantial evidence. But what is happening in this case is that the investigators have already decided that Dara Singh has committed this crime and he is a Bajrang Dal member,” Sarangi had said then.

Maybe, then they did not have the control of the police force and CBI to change the verdict in their favour.

The Bajrang Dal, RSS at that time was campaigning against Christian missionaries alleging that they were converting tribals. The Staines family, however, at the time was working with leprosy patients.

He was also arrested on charges of rioting, arson, assault and damaging government property after a 2002 attack on the Orissa state assembly by Hindu right-wing groups, including the Bajrang Dal. A 500-strong mob comprising Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Durga Vahini activists stormed the Orissa Assembly building. Sporting saffron headbands and chanting "Jai Sriram" and "Atal Behari Vajpayee zindabad," the trident-wielding men rushed inside, indulging in vandalism for over 30 minutes.

In his election affidavit, it is mentioned that he has seven criminal cases against him. The charges against him include criminal intimidation, rioting, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, and extortion

If he could have been made a minister, now, does anyone have any doubt about Pragya Thakur becoming a union minister anytime soon?

Minister Pratap Sarangi has blood on his hands; an austere life is not a life without crime

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Published: 31 May 2019, 7:05 PM