06/25/2018, 09.31
INDIA
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Indian bishops: 'False' rape charges against a priest in Jharkhand

by Nirmala Carvalho

Sexual violence was perpetrated against five NGO activists of the Ursuline nuns. The parish priest of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Kochang is accused of aiding and abetting. The women had participated in a program against trafficking in human beings.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI) rejects accusations against a Jesuit priest of Jharkhand of aiding and abetting in a kidnapping and rape as "false". Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, CBCI general secretary protests against the arrest of Fr. Alphonse Aind, held in some way co-responsible for the sexual violence perpetrated on June 19 against five activists.

Speaking of the serious episode of violence, Card. Telesphore Toppo, the outgoing archbishop of Ranchi, affirms: "I feel great sorrow". The incident occurred in the village of Kochang, Khunti district. Here the victims were slated to participate in a rally against human trafficking and a program to raise awareness on the topic of migration organized at the Stockman Memorial middle school.

The activists - four girls and one woman - are part of the NGO "Asha Kiran" ("ray of hope") [a recovery center run by the Ursuline nuns in Fudi, about 20 km from Ranchi - ed]. They were encircled by men with their faces covered as they headed towards the school annexed to the Church of the Sacred Heart, of which Fr. Aind was parish priest. Then under the threat of weapons they were kidnapped and forced to follow the kidnappers into the jungle where they suffered group violence.

During an interview, Ashwini Sinha, superintendent of Khunti police, told the press that Fr. Aind is guilty of suspected complicity in the case of kidnapping and rape and not reporting the incident to the authorities. The police also accuse him of negligence for allowing the group of women to go out on the street with the nuns, despite the threat of criminals.

This is why the priest was arrested along with other people, interrogated and released after bail. The agents also interrogated teachers Motaye Mundu and Robert Issa Purty and the coordinators of the NGO, Sr. Ranjeeta Kindo and Sr. Anita Nag. Sr. Julia George, of Ranchi's Ursulines, reports to AsiaNews that Sr. Ranjeeta Kindo "was invited to accompany the group and participate in a street show. The company had already performed in a square and was supposed to go to school for another show in front of the children ".

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