The Kerala Police have registered rape and molestation cases against four priests of Malankara Orthodox Church in Kottayam, Kerala, over allegations of sexual harassment. The victim, in her statement to the police, confirmed that she was raped and blackmailed, reported ANI.
On Friday, 29 June, state Director General of Police Loknath Behera reportedly directed the Crime Branch to initiate a probe into the issue. The development came in light of mounting pressure on the state police for not having registered a suo motu case yet.
The decision for the Crime Branch probe came a day after the National Women's Commission (NCW) stepped in to direct the Kerala police to register a suo motu case. The NCW had written to the DGP and the state police chief of Kerala, directing him to investigate the matter and apprise the commission about the detailed action.
The NCW also took cognisance of a telephonic conversation between the woman’s husband and another man, in which he said that the family was facing pressure from the church to withdraw the complaint.
Senior Communist leader and Chairman of Administrative Committee VS Achuthanandan had also demanded a police investigation into the allegation that the five priests blackmailed a woman from Thiruvalla and demanded sexual favours from her.
This, after her confessional secret of having a relationship prior to her wedding was used by a priest to threaten her.
The woman's husband filed a complaint with the church three months ago, after which the church sent the accused priests from various dioceses on leave.
In his letter to the state DGP, Achuthanandan said that the church should have handed over the woman’s husband’s complaint to the police for investigation.
While the woman's husband sought a probe into the allegation and demanded that the accused priests be defrocked, the church set up an inquiry committee that decided to relieve them of their official duties and sent them on leave.
(With inputs from ANI and The News Minute)