A tribal girl was allegedly abducted by a pastor from a tribal hamlet in the Jawadhu hills located in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. According to the reports, the 49-year-old Christian pastor identified as Jayaraj, a resident of Trichy, was camping in Perungattur, a tribal hamlet in the Jawadhu hills of TN. The Christian priest indulged in preaching and evangelism in the village for four years in the garb of a social worker.
In October, as schools were shut down due to the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic, Pastor Jayaraj took advantage of this situation and proposed that he would like to teach the children at his house.
The parents agreed to this arrangement and sent their children to his house. Jayraj allegedly misbehaved with the girls who visited his home for tuitions. The parents came to know about the harassment and registered a complaint. The police warned the pastor of dire consequences and asked parents to stop sending their children to his house for tuition.
Pastor lured kids saying he would teach them
However, on 24th October, a 13-year-old girl went missing and her parents have accused the pastor of abducting her. The girl’s father filed a complaint with the local police a day later. However, the girl has not been found. The police have not able to trace the pastor as he does not use a mobile phone which makes it difficult to trace his whereabouts. They have been in search for the pastor, who has abducted girl for more than three weeks now.
Recently, the police got information that the pastor was hiding at Velankanni. The police took the father along with them to catch him, however, he couldnot be found there.
The parents of the girl, losing hope of finding their daughter, have now approached the Superintendent of Police, Tiruvannamalai to plead with him to bring his daughter back. “I don’t know what condition my daughter is in. I’m afraid. Please help find my daughter immediately,” the father of the girl said.
Reportedly, upon investigation, the Police have found that he was married twice but both the wives left him. They have slapped a case of kidnapping on the pastor and the search for Jayaraj is going on.
Church crimes in India
There has been a dangerous trend of repeated cases of rape and other abusive incidents at Churches across the world. Unfortunately, India is not immune to this plague either. Christian priest and churches, like most cases worldwide, have been targeting the poor, destitute for their crimes but the cases go unnoticed.
However, in India, the crimes have been coming into public domain lately. There have been several incidents of sexual harassment and other abuse by Church officials and priests.
In 2018, a 45-year-old Christian priest was booked for the brutal rape an 11-year old girl in Vallampadu, Andhra Pradesh. In July 2017, Father Saji Joesph, a priest who was the director of a children’s home in Kerala’s Wayanad district, was arrested after allegations of sexually abusing minor boys.
Franco Mulakkal, a Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, was arrested and released on bail later for allegedly raping a 44-year old nun at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014. Similarly, Father Johnson V Mathew, a priest of Malankara Orthodox church was accused in the rape and sexual abuse of a married woman belonging to the fold was arrested in July 2018.
In February, the Mysuru police had arrested three pastors (religious leaders associated with protestant Churches) for allegedly raping a teenager in Mangaluru. All three Christian priests have now been charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. In another incident, a 60-year-old pastor named Chandra Kumar belonging to a local church in Nagaland was arrested for allegedly raping a 10-year-old girl in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district.
In another incident, a 33-year old Catholic priest, Father Prakash Damor was arrested in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh for abetting a 17-year-old girl’s suicide. Recently, a special Mahila Court in Cuddalore had sentenced a church priest to 30 years in prison and nine others to life in prison for their involvement in the horrifying 2014 Tittakudi rape case, which involved two minor girls.
In September, a 68-year-old Christian priest of the Syro Malabar Church named Father George Padayattil, the vicar of Holy Cross Church in Chendamangalam in Ernakulam district, was booked for the rape of three 9-year-old girls
Similarly, a Class IX student had died in October at GBP hospital after being allegedly tortured repeatedly by the warden of Holy Cross School, Tripura. In November this year, thirty-seven Catholic priests from different parishes in Mysuru had written to Pope Francis to remove the Bishop of Mysore KA William over his alleged involvement in criminal offences, misappropriation of funds and sexual misconduct.
Maria Antony Raj, a 60-year-old the catholic priest, who is the correspondent of the St Mary’s High School in the Gandhipuram area of Coimbatore was arrested for forcing the girl students to open sexually explicit content on his mobile phone. Reportedly, another Christian priest named Shalom Babu Tandi has been booked by Pathalgaon police station for the alleged rape of a minor girl in his care.
In 2019, Syro-Malabar Church Priest Robin was convicted by the Thalassery POCSO court in February 2019 for raping and impregnating a 16-year-old girl back in 2016.