A Christian missionary from Kerala was arrested by Jammu and Kashmir Police Friday for allegedly running an illegal orphanage in Kathua town and sexually exploiting girls living there.
Identifying the missionary as Antony Paster, Assistant Commissioner (Revenue) Jitender Mishra told The Indian Express that 20 children, including eight girls, were rescued. The administration is looking for their parents, he said.
According to Mishra, Kathua Deputy Commissioner Rohit Khajuria had, following a complaint from a local resident, set up a five-member team of officials from different departments to inspect the orphanage in a densely populated area of Kathua town. Led by Mishra, the team members along with police found that the missionary was running the orphanage without permission from authorities. On questioning, it claimed to be affiliated with Pentecostal Mission, an NGO. However, the NGO denied having any link with the orphanage, Mishra said.
Thereafter, the team members spoke to the children living there, and they complained of being kept in confinement and threatened by the missionary and his wife. The girls complained of sexual harassment, Mishra said. Antony was then arrested.