New Delhi: Garnering applause and cheers from people across the country, BJP’s Pratap Chandra Sarangi was sworn in as a Minister of State on May 30. While his inspirational journey from rags to political riches has made him a social media hero, what’s not being talked about as much is the fact that Sarangi was the Odisha chief of Bajrang Dal when Graham Staines and his two children were burnt alive in 1999.
Sarangi takes oath: From rags to political riches
Pratap Chandra Sarangi, popularly known as ‘the Narendra Modi of Odisha’, stole the show when he secured a berth in the Narendra Modi-led Union Council of Ministers and took oath at Rashtrapati Bhavan on May 30. The large crowd, including many world leaders, gave a standing ovation to Sarangi.
The 64-year-old, who had lost to BJD’s Rabindra Jena by a margin of 1.5 lakh votes in 2014, won the Balasore seat in Odisha in the recently concluded General Elections.
Known for his humble beginnings and simple and austere lifestyle, Sarangi became an internet sensation when a photo of him packing his bags for Delhi after winning the election went viral on social media. Another picture of him that won many hearts shows Sarangi leaving his bamboo hut to take the oath.
Before fighting the national election, Sarangi has been a member of Odisha’s Legislative Assembly from 2004 to 2014. He is also a member of BJP’s National Executive, the highest governing body of the party.
A look back at his dubious past
Sarangi is all this — and more. He was the state coordinator of the Bajrang Dal when a Hindu mob burnt alive Australian Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two children in 1999.
Bajrang Dal was accused of the killings by leaders of the Christian community. An official enquiry, however, found no evidence of involvement of any particular group in the attack. Dara Singh, convicted for the murder, was a Bajrang Dal member.
The Commission headed by Justice DP Wadhwa of the Supreme Court, appointed to enquire into the incident, did not even examine the role of the Bajrang Dal on the ground that it was not an illegal organisation. It accepted Sarangi’s testimony, denying the group’s involvement in the killings, without cross-examining him.
According to a media report, an Odisha-based journalist had said that Sarangi gave several interviews, including to him, speaking passionately against “evil designs” of Christian missionaries who were “bent on converting the whole of India”.
He was also arrested on charges of rioting, arson, assault and damaging government property after a 2002 attack on the Odisha state Assembly by Hindu rightwing groups, including the Bajrang Dal.
However, it won’t be wrong to say that the Internet never forgets. Netizens have been quick to recall Sarangi’s past, and some even said that the BJP had ‘rewarded Hindu terror’ yet again by including Sarangi in the Cabinet.
Most people may have forgotten, but new Union minister Sarangi was Odisha coordinator of the Bajrang Dal when Graham Staines and his two kids were burned alive two decades ago
— Mihir Sharma (@mihirssharma) May 31, 2019
Hindu terrorism is rewarded yet AGAIN. A man who was chief of Bajrang Dal & mastermind behind burning alive Graham Staines & his 10 & 6 year old kids in Orissa has been rewarded with berth in union cabinet. Good going India. https://t.co/UYreT7rXIk via @ndtv
— Nikhil (@nikhil_thatte) May 31, 2019
Dara Singh of Bajrang Dal had burnt alive Graham Staine & his two minor sons in 1999 in the middle of night while they were sleeping inside a Jeep- His coordinator was Pratap Sarangi, who is now Modi’s only minister from Odisha! https://t.co/mYzAbkHhSn
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) May 31, 2019
Graham Staines and his two kids were burned alive two decades ago by Bajrang Dal in Odisha. The man who was Odisha Bajrang Dal coordinator then is now Union Minister of India.
His name is PRATAP CHANDRA SARANGI.
Sanghi folks call him Odisha's Modi.
Sab Ka Vishwas RIP!
— Arun Shourie ᶠᵃⁿ (@FeignShourie) May 31, 2019
Never mind that Sarangi was the head of the Bajrang Dal in Orissa when Graham Staines and family were killed. Trust the Indian media to whitewash extremists. Because PLUhttps://t.co/UaVbRufoij
— Yeh Log ! (@yehlog) May 31, 2019
He was the leader of the Bajrang Dal, a hardline rightwing group, when a Hindu mob brutally killed Australian Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two children in 1999. pic.twitter.com/UuWKOiVM08
— Nilesh Gaikwad (@nileshg6838) May 31, 2019
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