The residence of principal of a Catholic school in Gwalior diocese was searched to recover a liquor bottle, condoms
Nivedita Sharma (right), a member of Madhya Pradesh state’s Commission for Protection of Child Rights, speaking to media after the raid on the campus of St Mary’s School in Morena. (Photo: Twitter)
A priest who served as a principal of a Catholic school in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh was arrested and sent to judicial custody in a surprise search that appears preconceived.
Police claimed to have searched Father R. B. Dionysius’ residence within the campus of St Mary’s School at the Morena district headquarters and seized a few bottles of alcohol and condoms.
The search operation, conducted under the direction of Nivedita Sharma, a member of the state’s Commission for Protection of Child Rights on March 25, smacks of foul play to trap the priest, said an official from the Gwalior diocese under whose jurisdiction the school falls.
“It seemed to be part of a conspiracy to defame the diocesan school that has been doing well for the past 25 years,” the diocesan official who did not want to be named told UCA News on March 27.
Dionysius was arrested and sent to judicial custody on charges including disturbing public peace, conspiracy, threatening to cause death or grievous hurt, and using criminal force against a public servant on duty, police said.
If convicted of all charges he can be jailed for at least ten years.
The diocesan official said they had applied in a court for the priest’s bail on March 27 and expressed hope that he will be released soon.
Meanwhile, an official told the local media that police had sealed the priest’s residence, which was within the school campus where some to 1,800 students are studying.
The campus lacked cleanliness, the official said and questioned the school’s management for allowing the priest’s residence inside the school campus.
This is the latest action from the child rights panel against a Christian school in the state this month.
It earlier searched a school run by the Jabalpur diocese in the tribal-dominated Dindori district and arrested its principal, a layman, for alleged sexual assault on girls in its hostel.
Police also filed a criminal case of cheating against Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur last week.
Diocesan officials said the search operation should have been restricted to the offices and classrooms and the forceful entry into the priest’s residence was uncalled for.
“The team broke open the lock of the priest’s residence and carried out the search, which looked like part of a pre-planned script,” a priest lamented.
Christian schools, hostels, and orphanages have faced similar inspections that are followed by police action in the recent past in Madhya Pradesh.
Church leaders said they are clueless as to how to deal with the constant harassment from the panel that is meant to safeguard child rights.
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