Crime Branch to probe Kerala Malankara Church sleaze case

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Thiruvananthapuram, June 29 (IANS) The Kerala Police chief on Friday ordered a Crime Branch probe into the sexual exploitation of a woman by five priests of the Kottayam-headquartered Malankara Orthodox Church.

Director General of Police Loknath Behra directed the Crime Branch wing to probe into the allegations made by the victim’s husband, who belongs to the same church.

An online portal had first reported the story last week, following which tremendous pressure from several quarters, especially the social media, mounted on the Church, which was forced to announce an internal probe.

The husband has said one of the priest who first exploited his wife was blackmailing her. When she sought help from another priest, he too, threatened her and shared her contact with another fellow priest and in the end she came under the duress from at least five priests.

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Although the church hierarchy preferred the matter be dealt with surreptitiously, trouble started when the National Commission for Women (NCW) took suo motu cognisance and wrote to Behra directing him to investigate the matter.

Later, former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan also wrote to Behra saying it was unfair that the Church was conducting the probe, as it would not be a “fair and free” investigation.

Instead the police should probe such a case, Achuthanandan said.

The Additional Director General of Police heading the Crime Branch was asked to constitute a special team to carry out the probe.

The victim, however, has not yet registered a complaint with any police station. Besides the husband has also handed over all documents of exploitation to the church authorities.

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The Crime Branch will first conduct a preliminary probe on the veracity of the various news reports and will then probe whether the allegations are true, an informed source said.

–IANS

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