Indian Catholic News

Catholic priest, five others get life in prison for Jharkhand rape

A probe is going on against two nuns of an NGO in the case.

 
File photo.
Ranchi: 

A Jharkhand court on Friday sentenced six people, including a Catholic priest, to life imprisonment for their involvement in a gang rape.

The sentencing by Additional District Judge (ADJ) Rajesh Kumar of the Khuti District Court was earlier scheduled for Wednesday but was deferred until Friday.

There were a total of eight accused in the case. While one remains at large, a minor has been sent to juvenile court.

Five girls were gang-raped on June 19, 2018 in Arki in Khuti district. Based on the statements of the victims, the police arrested seven people including Father Alphonse Aind.

The victims had gone to Arki to perform a drama to create awareness regarding government schemes. They were abducted and assaulted.

The court on May 7 convicted the Jesuit priest of involving in the rape conspiracy.

The priest, who was the principal of Jesuit-run Stockmann Memorial Middle School in remote Kochang village in Khunti Diocese, was sent to custody on June 22 last year, a day after the June 19 rape case was reported.

Jharkhand High Court had released him on bail on March 15.

Police charges against Father Aind included being part of a conspiracy, kidnapping, wrongful confinement and not reporting a crime.

Father Aind has consistently denied the charges and church people believe the charges were fabricated amid a hostile atmosphere toward Christians in the state since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014.

Six men abducted and raped five young women who were staging a street play to create awareness among local indigenous people about the trafficking of women and children.

Police say the priest saved two Ursuline nuns who were working with the abducted women.

Police say the play angered the attackers because it expressed sentiments against Pathalgadi — a movement asserting tribal autonomy over villages as per provisions in the Indian constitution.

The movement has been projected as a rebellion against some state policies, which tribal leaders say aim to take away their land and resources in the name of development projects.

Father Aind has two cases registered against him linked with the same incident.


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