About 20 children, all aged between 5 and 15 years were reportedly rescued last night from an illegal ‘orphanage’ being run in Kathua town of Jammu. According to reports, many of the rescued children have levelled grave accusations of sexual abuse and exploitation on the missionary who ran the orphanage, a person named Father Thomas Anthony.
According to reports, eight of the rescued children are girls. The police were informed about the illegal orphanage and the abuse of children after the teachers at the government school filed a written complaint against the missionary and the orphanage to the district administration. The children had reportedly shared with the teachers that they were being sexually abused for a long time in the orphanage.
The arrested person, Thomas Anthony allegedly had no registration or permit for the orphanage. The so-called orphanage was being run from a rented accommodation in Kathua town and had no official documents, boards or papers. Thomas Anthony reportedly told the police that his ‘orphanage’ was a sister concern of the Pentecostal Mission in Pathankot. However, the Assistant revenue commissioner (ACR) of Kathua, Jitendra Mishra has reportedly informed media that upon inquiry, the Pentecostal Mission has denied granting any permission to run an orphanage in Kathua.
ACR Mishra has also reportedly informed that the Children housed in the orphanage mostly hail from Gurdaspur in Punjab and nearby areas such as Samba, Bari Brahamana and Jammu. Upon inquiry, many of the children were revealed to have single parents. The district administration has shifted the children to the local Bal Ashram and Nari Niketan in Kathua town. The families of the children had been informed too.
Upon police inquiry, it was also revealed that the orphanage had no female warden and Anthony reportedly informed that his wife has gone to her hometown in Kerala.
District administration officials have also informed that a detailed inquiry of the case will be conducted and the children will be medically examined too.
It is notable here that the Kathua town had grabbed national and international headlines after the gruesome rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl came to light in April. Many Christian organisations have been found connected with cases of child sexual abuse in India. Recently in Bihar, some NGOs running care homes for girl children are facing legal consequences after a study by TISS, Mumbai revealed that girl children are being sexually abused by the officials at the care homes.