A Catholic Priest of the Jesuit congregation Father Alphonse Aind was recently sentenced to life imprisonment by the District Court & Additional Sessions Judge of Khunti, Jharkhand.
Not only the church priest hatched a conspiracy for the rape of five young girls of an NGO fighting ‘Human Trafficking’ in the state, he further threatened them with grave consequences for their families if they reported the matter to the police.
One the victims who also was the first the find courage to report the matter and was also the main target of the abductors, shared her story with India Expose.
The girl was a part of the nukkad-natak team that was booked by the Asha-Kiran NGO of the church to perform a street play at Kochang Bajar-Tand at about 11:30 AM. Two sisters of Asha-Kiran Sansthan namely Sister Ranjeeta and sister Vinita had accompanied the nukkad-natak team there.
While the team was performing the pre-scheduled performance at the pre-decided place, both the sisters of Asha- Kiran, had gone to the school running by R.C. Church. Since the crowd was low, the performance was over in a short period of time, after which, the driver came back and informed the nukkad natak team that they had to perform at the school as well. The team objected but after the driver pressurised them, and told that the sisters wanted them to perform at the school, they went there.
When the victim with her team reached the school, sisters told them to perform there as there was a crowd, and then engaged in talking with the Father. The victim stated that she couldn’t understand why Father and sisters wanted to organise the Nukkar-Natak programme at school suddenly, when it was not pre-scheduled.
The victim also stated that after the programme had started, she saw four men on two bikes come to the location. One of them had a pistol at his waist, which scared her. She said that the Father engaged in talking with the men for a little while, after which, he came back and asked the team members, including her, to go with the boys. The team members refused, and said that they had come with the sisters and go back with them only. The victims repeatedly requested the Father to not let them go with the miscreants, but to no avail. When victims pressurised, sister Ranjeeta agreed to accompany them but the Father stopped her, and told only victims to go with them.
The miscreants took the keys of the two vehicles that the two sisters- sister Ranjeeta and sister Vinita had brought them in, to take the victims to a remote location, where they were repeatedly raped by the different men, tortured and humiliated. Obscene snapshots and videos were made. The male members of the team were held at a gun-point, assaulted, and forced to engage in deplorable activities.
The victim stated that when they cried in pain, the miscreants laughed. She further revealed that they said, “you people were circulating pamphlets against Pathalgarhi and helping man of ‘Dikus’ language and you people are the agent of police, so it became essential to teach a lesson to you people. So that in future, no institution may come and propagate the agenda of police administration in this area, otherwise they have to face consequences more ugly in nature.” They also stated that “this very incident is just a start”.
After the horrific ordeal, the victim stated that all of them were brought back to the church-run school, where both the sisters and the Father threatened them to not disclose the incident otherwise their family members may be killed.
The next day when the victims went to the Asha-Kiran institute and informed about the incident, then sister Vinita and sister Ranjeeta, and another church priest came and again convinced them not to disclose the crime otherwise their family will be in danger. The victim stated that the said institution had not even bothered to ensure their treatment.
On 8 May, the court of additional district and sessions judge Rajesh Kumar sentenced life imprisonment until death to Father Aind and other five accused – Baji Samad alias Takla, Ajub Sandi Tirkey, Junas Mundu, John Jonas Tiru and Balram Samad, along with Rs 2 lakh fine on each of the convicts that would be paid to the victims.
The court categorically stated in its judgement that the gangrape was pepetrated not just to satisfy sexual lust but to teach the anti-human trafficking activists a lesson, who tried to venture into the Pathalgadi area.
The court also said that the evidence clearly showed the nexus between the accused, one of them a christian missionary, three of rebel outfit People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) and two Pathalgadi leaders.
On the other hand, Church officials in Jharkhand opine that the charges against Father Alphonse Aind are fabricated to tarnish the Church. The General Secretary of Catholic Bishops Conference of India, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas expressed to a section of media that there are efforts to implicate the church in such a dispute and discredit the good services it has been doing.