05/09/2019, 08.59
INDIA
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Jharkhand, priest convicted of rape. Sister defends him: it is an attack on Christians

by Nirmala Carvalho

The rape took place on June 19, 2018 in the village of Kochang, district of Khunti. The victims were assaulted while attending the school run by Fr. Aind. The attorney general: "He is the one who planned the crime". But Sister Julia denies: "The girls were not supposed to be there".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The judicial authorities have sentenced the Jesuit priest Fr. Alphonse Aind, found guilty in a controversial case of kidnapping and rape, which occurred in June 2018 in the State of Jharkhand.

Sister Julia George, of the Ursulines of Ranchi, criticizes the sentence and states: "It is a total injustice. All this is a definite attack on the missionary work of Christians ". The victims of violence are five activists of an NGO managed by his order. Together with Fr. Aind, five other people ended up behind bars. Free on bail since March 14, the Jesuit was taken into custody immediately after the verdict, issued two days ago. Sushil Jaiswal, attorney general in the process, declares: "He is the one who planned the crime". The Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI) has always rejected the accusations made against the priest as false.

The rape took place last June 19 in the village of Kochang, district of Khunti. Here the victims had to participate in a rally against human trafficking and the recitation of a group of artists. 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..

On 22 June, the National Women's Commission (NCW) wrote a letter to the Jharkhand Police Director General (DGP). The document urged the official to keep the commission up to date on the actions taken by the authorities regarding rape. The NCW also announced that it had set up an investigation group composed of three members, to investigate the case and present recommendations. In a report presented on June 28, the NCW stated that the Khunti incident appeared to be "planned" and "carried out in a professional manner". The letter cast shadows on the conduct of Fr. Aind, listed as having an active part in the crime.

In those days Ashwini Sinha, superintendent of the Khunti police, told the press that Fr. Aind would have been one of the accomplices, accusing him of not having reported the incident to the authorities. The official also accused the priest of negligence for having allowed the group of women to go out on the street with the nuns, despite the threat of the criminals. For this reason the priest was arrested along with other people, interrogated and released after posting bail. The agents also questioned the coordinators of the NGO: Sister Ranjeeta Kindo and Sister Anita Nag.

Sister Julia George, of the Ursulines of Ranchi, comments: "This is total injustice against Fr. Aind. I am extremely sad about this verdict. Sister Ranjitha should not have accompanied the artists. These convinced her to journey together. The actors are a group of professionals who stage street performances, to raise public awareness about human trafficking. Since no one was near the market, designated as their show venue, Sister Ranjitha saw the school and discovered that the building housed 500 students. The institute is the Stockman Memorial Middle School, of which Fr. Aind is the principal. So he proposed that the show be organized there, at the last minute and without warning. At that moment, the five rapists arrived on board a motorcycle. The sentence of Fr. Aind is a parody of justice ".

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