The bishop of the Mananthavady Diocese has also removed the Reverend Robin Vadakkancheril from his job as vicar of St. Sebastian church in Kottiyoor and from conducting any priestly functions, said the Reverend Nobel Parackal, a media officer for the diocese in Kerala state.
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Ten days after the police arrested Fr Robin Vadakkumchery, prime accused in the rape and subsequent impregnation of a 16-year-old girl from Kannur district, and with just one day to go for his judicial custody to end, the Kerala Police is still trying to arrest the remaining seven accused in the case. These seven people include five nuns, an administrator and paediatrician at the hospital run by the church.
While Fr Robin is the prime accused in the case, all the others have been booked for covering up the rape, pregnancy and delivery.
The police investigation so far has revealed that a network of various Christian institutions carefully planned and covered up the crime – to save their own face, and to save one of their own.
And as the investigation progresses, the fact that an intricate network of multiple organisations spanning across two districts is working to thwart the investigation is clear.
Although the police team has combed a number of convents in the district, police sources told The News Minute that they are facing "practical difficulties" with regard to arresting the remaining accused.
Considering that there were multiple organisations and people involved in protecting Fr Robin, police suspect that the rest of the accused could also be receiving similar "support" from religious organisations they are part of.
How the Crime Was Covered Up
According to police, there was a huge network of Church officials at work in covering up the crime. To begin with, the minor girl was a student at a school under the Church in which Fr Robin was posted as a manager.
He raped the girl multiple times, after which she got pregnant.
On 7 February, the girl was taken to Christu Raj hospital, run by a Christian management. Police say that Fr Robin “donated” money to the hospital as reward for not reporting the incident to police.
The hospital administrator then agreed to admit the girl, while gynaecologist Dr Tessy and Nellayani Thankamma assisted in the delivery.
After the girl gave birth, Dr Hyderali, a paediatrician at the hospital allowed the baby to be discharged. The minor girl continued to get medical assistance for two days before she was allowed to return home.
Meanwhile, Nellayali Thankamma, Dr Liz Maria and Sr Anita from Christu Dasi convent in Wayanad took the baby from the hospital to an orphanage in Wayanad. Sr Anita drove a Maruti Eeco car to the orphanage. Two days ago, police seized the abandoned vehicle from Iratti in Wayanad district.
But while they’ve pieced the story together, police have been unable to arrest the other seven accused.
So far, FIRs have been registered against eight people in the case, including five nuns, one of whom moved the Kerala High Court on Tuesday to file an anticipatory bail application.
Cases under the POCSO Act have been filed against prime accused Fr Robin, Nelliyani Thankamma who assisted in the childbirth, gynaecologist at Christu Raj hospital in Kannur Dr Tessy, paediatrician Dr Hyderali, hospital administrator Ancy Mathew, Dr Liz Maria and Sr Anita from Christu Dasi convent in Wayanad.
Sr Ophilia, the Superintendent of the Holy infant Mary orphanage at Wayanad, where the baby was taken is the accused number 8.
Church Remains Silent
For its part, the Church has been largely silent. While Fr John Therakom was suspended by the Archdiocese after the Kerala government sacked the priest from the post of Chairman of Child Welfare Committee (CWC) for co-operating in the cover-up, there has been no word from the Church on the absconding nuns.
The Bishops Council had chosen to dismiss the incident, claiming it to be an "exception" among the 9,033 catholic priests in Kerala. The council also put blame on ‘consumerism’ and media.
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