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Tamil Nadu: Christian pastor who had organised George Ponnaiah’s hate speech event booked on gang-rape charges

The victim has accused Arumana Stephen and seven others of spiked her drink and gang-raping her after she fell unconscious. The pastor and his friends then filmed the act, confined her inside a farmhouse and repeatedly raped her.

Christian priest Arumanai Stephen, the secretary of Arumanai Christian Association(ACA), has been booked by the Tamil Nadu police for allegedly gang-raping a married woman and recording the video of the act. Seven others also allegedly committed the crime along with the pastor.

Pastor Stephen is currently already arrested for organising an event in the Kanyakumari district in which controversial Catholic priest George Ponnaiah had made hate speech against Hindus and abused Hindu deities.

According to the reports, a 36-year-old woman from Veeyannoor of Thiruvattar district in Tamil Nadu has registered a complaint against Arumanai Stephen, accusing him of not only gang-raping her but also recording the act.

The victim has accused Arumana Stephen and seven others of spiking her drink and gang-raping her after she fell unconscious. The pastor and his friends then filmed the act, confined her inside a farmhouse and repeatedly raped her.

In April, the victim had filed a complaint with the police, but no action was taken due to their close relationship with the ruling DMK. A few days later, one accused Jefferson ended his life fearing police action. After the police arrested Stephen in the hate speech case, along with Pastor George Ponnaiah, the victim came forward to file another online complaint against Stephen seeking justice.

The police have also booked Stephen, DMK functionary John Bright, Henslin, Callister Jebaraj and other accused under IPC sections for unlawful confinement, stealing, sexual abuse, issuing death threats, etc.

Stephen had organised the hate speech event of George Ponnaiah:

Stephen, the secretary of Arumanai Christian Association (ACA), was the organiser of a public meeting at Arumanai in which George Ponnaiah had made the hate speech against Hindus. The pastor had made the contentious remarks during a meeting on July 18 at Arumanai.

During the meeting with his followers, Ponnaiah had condemned the closure of churches and the ban on conducting prayer meetings amidst the Coronavirus lockdown. He had paid tribute to late Maoist sympathiser Stan Swamy and also criticised the move to deny permits to build new churches on Patta land.

Father George Ponnaiah had slammed the Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HRCE), PK Sekar Babu. He emphasised, “It does not matter how many temples you renovate and consecrate. No Hindu, no devotee of Mandaikattu Amman, is going to vote for you. If you won, then it is the alms we Christians and Muslims have thrown to you. You won not because of your talents.”

While speaking about the role of the Church in ensuring DMK’s victory, he had said, “Bishops just signalled with their eyes and our workers including the Pentecostal movement workers went and canvassed for you (DMK and Congress).”

The Christian pastor was heard admonishing another candidate for not openly associating with the Church. He took potshots at the BJP at the expense of the local Nadar community. Father George Ponnaiah had claimed, “…He was afraid that he might lose Hindu votes. So who won there? Who was this M R Gandhi? He went to Christian Nadars and gave Rs 2,000 and cried that he was a Nadar and that he wanted to die as an MLA.” He had mocked the Nadar community by asking if they have brains and whether the BJP candidate MR Gandhi was even a Nadar in the first place.

Father Ponnaiah had also insulted Bharat Mata by claiming that she is dirty and can cause scabies. During his public address, he mocked MR Gandhi for not wearing footwear out of respect for Mother Earth (Bhumadevi/Bharat Mata). “But we wear shoes. Why? Because the impurities of Bharat Mata should not contaminate us. The Tamil Nadu government has given us free footwear. This bhumadevi is dangerous, you could catch scabies from it,” the pastor brazened it out. Besides vulgar rhetorics and open polarisation, Fr Ponnaiah made despicable remarks about PM Modi and Amit Shah.

The hate speech had caused massive outrage across the country, with citizens of the country demanding the arrest of the controversial Christian priest for spreading hatred against Hindus. Following a complaint, the Tamil Nadu police had arrested Father George Ponnaiah and Arumanai Stephen from the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.

 

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