Kunjabihari Das, a 60-year old Christian priest was arrested for raping and impregnating a 35-year old housekeeping staff at Lutheran Mahila Samity, a child care and old age home ‘non-profit society’ near a town called Kendrapara in Odisha. The Protestant Christian organization president Pramila Tripathy’s brother, Jagannath Tripathy too was raping her for many years and is now on the run! The victim is a mentally weak destitute woman.
The Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (OSCPCR) chairperson Sandhyabati Pradhan who visited the NGO termed the incident as shameful and unfortunate. “On the basis of the complaint, we inquired into the matter today. The allegations are highly sensitive and unfortunate. If such an incident occurs in such an institution, it is a matter of grave concern. We are inquiring it from all angles,” Pradhan said. After investigation, the OSCPCR chairperson directed police to take legal action against the accused following which, the padre was arrested.
The victim’s husband is accused of murder and in jail since 2014. Astonishingly, this is not the first time this is happening here and the same lady had given birth both in April 2016 and later in 2018. Pramila put up the earlier boy child for adoption and illegally sold the child to a couple without the mother’s consent! An earlier ‘adoption’ reported from the same institution was from a couple from Italy who took a seven-year-old child to Rome.
The Secretary of the NGO, Minarani Bhuyan said that when the victim had complained to her, she had immediately approached the police to lodge an FIR. She added that the cops turned down her request. Suspicions surround the same since both Pramila and Jagannath had allegedly threatened the victim with dire consequences if she discloses the matter publicly. There are allegations that Minarani’s story is just a ploy to try and blame the police and her words require a broader inquiry.
Meanwhile, local bodies including the Progressive Women’s Forum threatened to launch a massive protest if a fair probe is not conducted into the matter and justice delivered to the victim. “We request both the State government and the OSCPCR to ensure justice to the victim and her child,” said Mamata Samantray, chairperson of the Forum.
This NGO started operations in 1982 and has accreditation from both the Child Welfare Committee and the District Child Protection Committee. It receives funds from the Women and child development department of Odisha. It is also registered under FCRA and receives funds from both the US and Italy.
There are allegations that there is a larger conspiracy involving surrogacy and that angle needs to be properly investigated. Could they be accepting funds from foreign entities after assuring them children in exchange for funds and then impregnating mentally unstable ladies? Could they be selling children under the garb of adoption, thereby bypassing local laws?
Why do Christian converts retain Hindu names? Many might misunderstand them to be actually Hindus. Even after two weeks why is one of the accused still not behind bars? As in most cases, the accused might use the victim’s mental instability and her vulnerability as an excuse and escape with a mild punishment.
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