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.