A 55-year-old pastor was arrested by the Navi Mumbai police Friday for allegedly molesting three minor girls at a shelter home, officers said. The girls, who hail from poor families, were staying at the shelter home run by the church, the police said, adding that the pastor had touched them inappropriately on the pretext of applying balm.
According to the police, the pastor was arrested following a complaint from the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). The CWC had received a letter alleging that the girls were being molested at the home following which they visited the place and found 45 children staying in two unhygienic rooms, officers said. The children were subsequently shifted to other shelter homes.
“We have learnt that the pastor would call girls to his room and, under the pretext of applying balm or oil, he would touch them inappropriately. When the girls protested, the pastor would claim that it is for spiritual reasons,” an officer said.
One of the girls, aged 14, said she was molested since June 21. So far, three girls have revealed their ordeal, investigators said. They are trying to ascertain if more girls were abused. The pastor has been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso) 2012, the police said.