Back in 1999, a shocking incident took place in a tribal area of Odisha (Orissa). A missionary from Australia, along with his two sons (who were sleeping in a station wagon) were burnt to death by Hindu Bajrang Dal fundamentalists. This was probably among the earliest cases of fake news, because investigations later revealed that the Australian never did what he was accused of.
Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons- Phillip and Timothy – were sleeping in a station wagon in an Idisha village, when a mob set the wagon on fire. The bob believed that he was converting the tribals to Christianity. The family tried to escape but were prevented by the mob from coming out of the wagon.
Later, the Wadhwa Commission, which investigated the murders, revealed that Staines had never done what he was accused of. Dara Singh, a Bajrang Dal activist, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Director Aneesh Daniel’s film “The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story” is based on this incident.
“Nothing has changed since Graham and his sons murders in 1999. Hatred still thrives,” says the director who rues that the trend of fake news still continues and people refuse to learn.
Aneesh decided to make a film on the subject after the Wadhwa Commission made their report public and cleared Graham’s name. Its story was penned by Andrew E. Matthews and Graham’s wife Glady’s, a Padma shree Awardee.
Aneesh add, “Initially I felt that since Gladys has forgiven the killers of her husband and children, who are we to make a film on the incident. But then she gave us a nod and we decided to go ahead with it.”
Producer Victor Abraham shares, “Our aim is to tell the story, the result is in the hands of the audience. Our prayer is that people should remember this message of forgiveness, love and service.”