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Tamil Nadu: Church pastor and Nigerian national held for sexually assaulting minor girl, victim’s grandma also booked

The minor victim's grandmother Mary Amutha, and a marriage broker Paul have also been booked by the police for solemnising the girl's wedding with an adult male. They are charged under relevant sections of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.

A 20-year-old Church pastor and a Nigerian national have been arrested in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu on charges of sexually assaulting a minor girl. As per reports, the 16-year-old girl, from a Dalit community, had approached the Tiruvannamalai all-women police station for help.

The police have stated that the pastor and the Nigerian had allegedly assaulted the girl in the pretext of marrying her. The minor, the daughter of a daily wage labourer, was living with her grandmother in a village in Tiruvannamalai.

The pastor, named G Chelladurai, was reportedly working as a pastor in a church that was run by the victim’s grandma. Chelladurai had allegedly promised to marry the girl when she was in class 9. The victim has alleged that Chelladuari had assaulted her several times between February 2017 to May 2018. He had since shifted to Krishnagiri. On the girl’s complain and with the help of childline officials, a POCSO case has now been slapped on Chelladurai and he has been arrested from Krishnagiri where he was working.

The victim has also alleged that the Nigerian national, a visually impaired person named Nikki Philip, was introduced as a prospective groom for her by a marriage broker named Paul to the victim’s grandma Mary Amutha.

Read: Investigation reveals nuns in Catholic institutions in India facing ‘decades of abuse’ by priests who enjoy protection

Nikki had allegedly claimed that he has a lot of money and will take the victim with her. The victim’s grandmother Mary Amutha had allegedly agreed for the proposal and had taken the victim to stay with Nikki at his residence at Chromepet on September 25 this year. On October 12, Nikki had ‘married’ the 16-year-old girl at a Church in Perumbakkam. Nikki had spent five days with the girl.

As per a report in the New Indian Express, hearing the news of the minor girl’s wedding, the victim’s aunt Sathiya had allegedly informed the girl’s father about the incident. Sathiya and the girl’s father had reportedly rescued the girl and had taken Nikki to the police station. But the girl’s father was reluctant to lodge a formal complaint as he was scared it might hamper the girl’s reputation.

The girl was subsequently rescued by childline officials, and, with their help, the case was pursued and a complaint was filed. on November 23, a complaint was lodged at the Tiruvannamalai women’s police station and the investigation was started.

Read: The long saga of the Vatican protecting priests with history of sexual abuse

P Thamizharasi, the inspector at the women’s police station has reportedly stated that an FIR has been lodged and the pastor G Chelladurai has been arrested over charges of raping the minor under the POCSO Act and various sections of the IPC. He is currently remanded under judicial custody at the central prison in Vellore.

Nikki Philip was also arrested by the police on Tuesday. He has also been booked under section 376(rape) and other charges under the POCSO Act. The police is also checking his travel documents. Philip has claimed that he had come to India in 2011.

The victim’s grandma and the marriage broker Paul are also booked under POCSO Act and IPC sections under the Prohibitions of Child Marriage Act. They are both absconding, informed the police.

Since the minor victim is a Dalit, the police have stated that Chelladurai and the Nigerian will also be slapped with charges under the SC/ST Act.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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