Children’s Home shut down, Pastor arrested, Jammu

Children’s Home shut down, Pastor arrested, Jammu

A Children’s Home in the Kathua town of Jammu, Parliwand ward number 7, was raided and the Christian Missionary running it, arrested by Police under the POSCO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, on allegations that he had sexually exploited the girl children living there. The civil administration and police conducted the raid on Friday after some children allegedly complained that they were being “harassed and tortured” at the home.

According to Mishra, Kathua Deputy Commissioner Rohit Khajuria had, following a complaint from a local resident, set up a five-member team of officials from different departments to inspect the orphanage in a densely populated area of Kathua town.

Locally known as ‘Antony Pastor’, the children’s home had been operational for the last 5 years. There were 20 children in all, including 8 girls from the age group of 5 – 15 years. This was home to children from poor backgrounds.

Disappointed with the serious allegations, the 60-year old Pastor Anthony clearly and unequivocally stated that he has never committed any wrong doing against anybody let alone the innocent children.

It is alleged that the children who attended a local government school, were being implicitly motivated and incited by a teacher, provoking them against the Pastor, as it was a Christian institution. One of the children who had allegedly been tutored, gave the damning statementagainst the Pastor, to the Police and the media.

Parents and guardians of the children were shocked and annoyed as their children were shifted against their will and that of the parents. They claim that the orphanage has been operating peacefully and the children well looked after.

Speaking to the Media, a parent going by the name “Aashu” expressed disappointment and shock at the raid.

The first thing we parents want is that Pastor Anthony should be released”.

Secondly, the Police should have informed us about this situation. It is only the following day at 2 pm that we have been informed.”.

If the pastor has beaten the child, the Police should ask the child for the parent’s telephone number and inform us.”

When the media questioned the children in front of the police, any person will say anything out of fear.

“My son has been here for the last 5 years and he has never had a complaint about the children’s home”.

Speaking to Persecution Relief, Pastor Anin, an independent Pastor, visited Pastor Anthony at the jail where he is being held. He has been acquainted with Pastor since 1994 and could not believe that such charges could be levelled against him. He claimed that Pastor was brutally beaten up by the Police while in custody.

Pastor Anthony’s wife is said to be on her way back to Jammu from Kerala.

Many Christian Leaders believe that this latest action by Child Welfare Commission (CWC) and the Police, is part of an ongoing, politically motivated campaign against Christian Institutions.

Church, please continue to pray for God’s protection over all such Christian Institutions across India.

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