The J&K police and District administration Kathua raided an ‘un-registered’ orphanage at Ward No. 4 in Nag Nagar area of Kathua on Friday after reports of sexual harassment with children in the ‘illegal’ orphanage which was being run run by a missionary in Kathua town.
Some of the children levelled serious allegations of sexual abuse, torture and physical assault against father Thomas Antony who was running the orphanage in a rented accommodation.
As per reports, acting on the complaints of locals, a team of district administration along with police reached on the spot and raided the ‘illegal’ orphan home while rescued 20 children (8 girls and 12 boys) from the illegal home which was being reportedly run illegally for last 4 years.
“The man who was running the illegal orphanage home hailing from Kerala namely Antony (70) has been detained while his wife has gone to Kerala and could not be arrested”, said sources, adding that the rescued children have been shifted to Nari Niketan and Baal Ashram.
Police further said father Thomas Antony told us that he had been running the orphanage in liaison with Pentecostal Mission in Pathankot.
There was no board or hoarding suggesting the name or existence of an orphanage in the rented accommodation.
“When we checked with the Pentecostal Mission in Pathankot, they outrightly denied any permission to such an orphanage in Kathua. The accused had been running the orphanage in a rented accommodation and the accommodation had no board or hoarding to suggest that it was a duly registered orphanage,” the ACR said.
However, there was no guard in the ‘self-styled’ home and the allegations of sexual harassment with the children of the illegal orphanage are being investigated, said a senior police officer.
He further said that the rescued children from the illegal orphanage are between the age group of 8 to 16 years.
Police sources said that they have seized a computer, pen drives and other electronic equipments from the illegal orphanage while a team of Cyber Crime will further investigate that whether any objectionable material was saved in the hard disk of the computer or pen drives.
The medical examination of the Children would be conducted, the officer said.
“We have recorded the statements of the children and the accused has been taken into custody by the police,”the official said.
The SSP said that he also heard about charges of sexual abuse against the accused Thomas Antony but refused to make any comment till investigations were conducted.
“Whether the children in the illegal orphanage were sexually exploited or not would be clear after investigation”, SSP Shridhar Patil said.