Updated: February 21, 2013 10:34 PM GMT
A Catholic priest was remanded into judicial custody Wednesday accused of raping four young girls at a Church-run school in Chhattiagarh state.
Father Vincent Toppo, 40, headmaster at Ashadeep Missionary School, was arrested Tuesday following allegations he raped four girls aged between 6 and 8 years old.
Residents of Kalyanpur village in Ambikapur district had staged a protest and sought action against the priest following allegations from parents. The victims belonged to the Oraon tribal community.
Police brought him to court on Wednesday, where he was remanded in judicial custody until March 7.
A medical examination has confirmed the children were subjected to a sexual assault, Ambikapur Collector R Prasanna, the highest administrative officer in the district, told ucanews.com.
Fr Toppo is also charged with assault, using criminal force on a female with intent to disrobe her, wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation and rape.
Ambikapur diocese officials called the accusations a "political witch hunt."
“It is an attempt to tarnish the image of the Church," Fr Xavier Ekka told ucanews.com.
Several leaders of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party) want to discredit the school because the Church is providing quality education to the poor, he alleged.
“We have full faith in the judiciary that we will get justice,” he said, adding that the diocese would fight the case.
The priest has been charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which was passed last year, a police spokesman said.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.