UCA News
Contribute

Indian police file ‘cheating’ case against Jabalpur bishop

Move comes after a sexual assault case against a Catholic school principal in the diocese collapses
Activists and members representing the Christian community display placards as they take part in a peaceful protest rally against what they claim is an increase in hostility, hate, and violence against Christians in various states of the country, in New Delhi on Feb. 19

Activists and members representing the Christian community display placards as they take part in a peaceful protest rally against what they claim is an increase in hostility, hate, and violence against Christians in various states of the country, in New Delhi on Feb. 19. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 24, 2023 09:53 AM GMT
Updated: March 24, 2023 11:23 AM GMT

Police in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have registered a criminal case of cheating against Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur, a charge that a diocesan official dismissed as “totally false.”

The case against the bishop comes close on the heels of the falling apart of a purported sexual assault case against a Catholic school principal in the Jabalpur Diocesan Education Society Higher Secondary School in Junwani, a village in the state’s Dindori district.

Church officials said both cases show that the Church is being targeted by local authorities.   

“We have charged the bishop with cheating, other crimes for abuses, neglect among other things,” said Dhiraj Raj, an inspector at Samnapur police station in Dindori district where the case was registered.

The case was registered on March 22 based on a complaint by an official from the education department under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2021, he told UCA News on March 24.

Raj refused to reveal any further details and said the police will probe the claims against the prelate.

"Child rights panel officials have been desperately carrying out inspections"

“It is a fabricated case. We will fight it legally and prove the innocence of our bishop,” Father Abraham Thazhathedath, vicar general of the diocese told UCA News.

Another Church official who did not want to be named said the fresh case against the bishop is to further target Catholic institutions after parents and students in Junwani village denied “the concocted sexual assault story.”

The Catholic school has been in the eye of a storm since March 3 following a surprise inspection by members of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

“Child rights panel officials have been desperately carrying out inspections in Christian schools and hostels, and are trying to find fault with everything that we do,” the Church official told UCA News.

Thazhathedath said the Church has nothing to hide and all its educational activities were in the public domain.

Nam Singh Yadav, the principal of the diocesan school and hostel in Junwani village was arrested and remanded in judicial custody on March 7 following an allegation that he had sexually assaulted eight minor girls.

The police also made a Catholic priest, nun and a male member of staff parties to the case, however, nobody else has been arrested yet after the students and parents openly denied the allegation against the principal as false.

Among the eight girls five have already demanded action against officials of the child rights panel who searched the girls’ hostel in a late night raid.

The parents have questioned the officials' conduct for taking their girls at night to government-run accommodation without their consent.

The rights panel tried justifying its actions by citing an allegation by a Grade 11 student that the principal had touched her inappropriately, but her relatives clarified that no such thing happened.

Many Christian institutions such as schools, hostels, and orphanages in Madhya Pradesh have witnessed increased inspections from the child rights panel followed by the filing of criminal cases under some pretext or the other.

Christians make up 0.29 percent of the state’s 72 million people.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia