Kathua: Father Thomas Anthony arrested for sexually abusing and torturing children in an illegal shelter home; 19 children rescued

A shocking incident has taken place in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir where a pastor has been arrested for molesting 19 children. The kids rescued were all between the age group of 5 to 15 years and among them eight were girls.

The man who was running this illegal orphanage in a rented accommodation was father Thomas Antony and few of the children levelled serious allegations of sexual abuse, torture and physical assault against him. What was even suspicious was that the orphanage had no name.

The assistant commissioner (revenue) Jitendra Mishra said “This evening Kathua deputy commissioner Rohit Khajuria asked us to raid an orphanage in Parliwand ward number 7 in Kathua town and accordingly we sought help of the police. We found 20 children including eight girls. All of them are aged between 5 to 15 years”.

When the police interrogated father Thomas Antony, he said that he had been running the orphanage in liaison with Pentecostal Mission in Pathankot. The officials said that “there was no board or hoarding suggesting the name or existence of an orphanage in the rented accommodation”.

A report said, “The pastor was running his “forced hostel” for the past 3-4 years inside the premises. He hails from Kerala and is in his early 60s. He was living in that building in Kathua with his wife. He began abusing the children sexually when his wife left for Kerala some months ago”.

Did the father run the orphanage in liaison with Pentecostal Mission in Pathankot?

When the officials checked with the Pentecostal Mission in Pathankot if they had given any permission to father Thomas Antony, the answer was negative.

The assistant commissioner (revenue) said “When we checked with the Pentecostal Mission in Pathankot, they outrightly denied any permission to such an orphanage in Kathua. The accused had been running the orphanage in a rented accommodation and the accommodation had no board or hoarding to suggest that it was a duly registered orphanage” and added that the rescued children have been shifted to Bal Ashram and Nari Niketan in Kathua town.

The assistant commissioner (revenue) Jitendra Mishra while talking about the residence of the children, he said “they belong to Gurdaspur in Punjab, Sanji Morh, Samba, Bari Brahamana and Jammu. When we checked, we found out that some of them had single parent. We have asked their families to come on Saturday”.

What was even shocking was that during the raid the police discovered that there was no female warden at the orphanage and Thomas Antony’s wife has gone home to Kerala. “We have recorded the statements of the children and the accused has been taken into custody by the police,” said the assistant commissioner.

How did the police come to know that the father was abusing 19 children in the orphanage?

“I came to know that there was an orphanage which was being run without registration and hence district administration led by ACR along with lady officers conducted the raid”.

These were the words of Kathua’s senior superintendent of police (SSP) Shridhar Patil. Refusing to comment on the sexual abuse done by the father, he said “Till the time things don’t settle down, there are apprehensions of harm to his life and going by the charges, we need to question him and if required, will go for his arrest. So, both the aspects have to be looked into”.

Source: Popular India News

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Hansika Raj