A total of 18 children from Odisha, below 10 years of age, who were illegally confined at a church near Kulasekharam in Kanyakumari District were rescued by the Social Welfare Department officials on Friday. A Parish Priest was detained in this connection.
Acting on a tip off, the officials conducted an inspection at a Roman Catholic church, St Thresa’s Church, near Kulasekharam and found 18 children from Odisha confined to a hall on the campus. “Under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, as Amended in 2006, it is an offence to keep children from other states without proper registration. We rescued the children from there,” District Social Welfare Officer (DSWO) Devi Kumari said.
Fifteen of them were boys. Clarat (47), a Pastor from Puthenthurai, was tracked down by the Social Welfare Department (DSW) officials and handed over to the police.
The officials said the children were brought by Clarat on June 20 from Blessing Trust, an NGO run by his friend, Rajkumar, near Coimbatore, and lodged at the church where his friend, Fr Lawrence, was a Parish Priest. Clarat planned to set up a home in Kanyakumari and was in the process of identifying a place for it, Devi Kumari said.
“I had gone to Metupalayam for ‘oozhiyam’ (preaching) where Rajkumar handed over the children and asked me to look after them,” Clarat said. Their parents were daily wagers.