In a press note, the forum charged the police with conniving with anti-Christian, fundamentalist forces to harass the community. It highlighted the recent arrest of the head of a children’s home and its warden in Durg district. The police had contended that Reverend Swaminathalu and warden J. Dilip Kumar of the Bethel Children Home were booked on the basis of “sufficient evidence,” it said.
The controversial Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was invoked against them for ‘coercive sex against minors.’ They were also facing charges of criminal intimidation and falsification of information.
They were charged under Section 23(cruelty to a child) under the Juvenile Justice Act. The anti-conversion law, 1968, which Chhattisgarh inherited from Madhya Pradesh, has also been slapped on them, the CCF noted.
The Sub-Divisional Officer (Police) of the Patan Block in Durg, Nivedita Pal, who is the supervising officer of the case, told The Hindu that the two were arrested on complaints from “minors from the children’s home.”
But a journalist from Durg, Dinesh Kumar, said the allegations were “concocted.”
“I spoke to the boys who were allegedly molested on Friday. They were eager to move back to their home from the rescue centre and said they had no complaint against anyone.
On Saturday, after recording their statement in the presence of senior police officials, the six boys were taken to the district general hospital for medical examination, where they told journalists that nobody molested them and that they were being coerced to give statements,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu.
According to Mr. Kumar, Father Swaminathalu had said the children were compelled to frame charges against him. He also claimed that a local NGO “masterminded the conspiracy” against him and the warden.
According to Ms. Pal, there was “evidence” against Rev. Swaminathalu and Mr. Dilip Kumar.
“They were arrested on the basis of strong prima facie evidence,” she said. She denied the charges that they were “falsely implicated” in the case. Both Rev Swaminathalu and the warden were remanded in judicial custody.
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