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Kerala: Pastor held on trafficking charges after railway police rescue 12 girls

Pastor Jacob Varghese was arrested for illegally bringing 12 girls from Rajasthan for his Karuna Bhavan Orphanage near Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district, police said. The pastor had no licence to run the orphanage and it had been closed for five years, police added.

kerala pastorAccording to the police, the pastor was not accompanying the children, who were being brought to Kerala by the middlemen and four parents.

A pastor from Kerala was arrested on Thursday on charges of trafficking 12 minor girls from Rajasthan for his orphanage in Ernakulam district, police said. The matter came to light after a passenger aboard the Okha-Ernakulam Express saw the girls, suspected something amiss and alerted the railway police.

Pastor Jacob Varghese, 56, was arrested for illegally bringing the 12 girls for his Karuna Bhavan Orphanage near Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district, police said. Two middlemen from Rajasthan, Lokesh Kumar and Shyam Lal, were also arrested. They were remanded to judicial custody by a court in Kozhikode, where the railway police had taken the children into custody from the train on Wednesday.

According to the police, the pastor had no mandatory licence to run the orphanage, which had been closed for the last five years. The 12 girls were brought from Rajasthan to reopen the orphanage, the police said. The orphanage did not have a licence from the local civic body and had not met the conditions stipulated by the Juvenile Justice Act, the police added.

According to the police, the pastor was not accompanying the children, who were being brought to Kerala by the middlemen and four parents.

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Police said one of the train passengers developed suspicion and alerted the railway police, who took the children and others into custody when the train reached Kozhikode. The middlemen allegedly told the police that they were bringing the children from Bhilwara district of Rajasthan at the behest of the pastor.

Kozhikode Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Chairman P Abdul Nazer said the children would be handed over to their parents after getting a report from the CWC in Bhilwara. “We are in touch with our counterparts in Rajasthan. The parents of the girls have already left for Kozhikode,” he said.

Instances of children being trafficked from North Indian states to Kerala orphanages have been reported in the past.

First published on: 29-07-2022 at 01:23:29 pm
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