RANCHI: A court in Khunti on Friday awarded life imprisonment to a Catholic priest, Father Alphones Aind, and five other accused in a case where five anti-trafficking activists were gang-raped, allegedly by ‘Patthalgadi’ supporters, in June last year.
The priest and the other accused—John Junas Tidu, Balram Samad, Baji Samad alias Takla, Ajub Sandi Purti, and Junas Mundu—were held guilty by the court of Additional District Judge Rajesh Kumar on May 7.
“The Court of Additional District Judge has pronounced life imprisonment to all the six accused persons in the case, where Father Alphones Aind has been identified as the conspirator in the case, while the two Patthalgadi supporters—John Junas Tidu and Balram Samad—were punished for encouraging the three villagers, Baji Samad alias Takla, Ajub Sandi Purti, and Junas Mundu for raping the anti-trafficking activists,” said Public Prosecutor Sushil Kumar Jaiswal.
Though the six accused persons were charged under different sections of the Indian Penal Code, the court awarded the maximum punishment to them, he added.
Eight persons were accused in the case, and six of them were arrested, while one of the accused, Ayub Sandi Purti, is absconding. He is said to be the area commander of Naxal outfit People’s Liberation Front of India.
One of the accused persons is a minor and his case has been sent a juvenile court in Khunti.
The incident took place at Kochang, under Arki Police Station in Khunti, on June 19, but the police were informed only a day later, and the news was leaked in the media by the evening of June 21.