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Published in the 1-15 Apr 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Priest arrested "for molestation"

The Milli Gazette Online 

Ahmedabad: Father Prasad Gonsalves, a Catholic priest running the Catholic Ashram at Radhanpur village in North Gujarat has been arrested on the charges of molesting a middle-aged Bhil woman. 

The Catholic Asharam had a low-cost housing project for the poor. Father Gonsalves had promised the woman that she would be a beneficiary of the project. On March 7, he allegedly made “unreasonable demands” and asked her to spend a night with him, said Patan deputy superintendent of police BR Pandor. 

He added that the woman is a resident of Jawaharnagar village. Since the current scheme for assistance was over, she was asked to wait for a few days till the start of the new scheme. But when she went to meet him on March 7, he attempted to molested her, offering immediate assistance. After a local court rejected Fr. Prasad’s bail plea, he has been sent to judicial custody. Pandor added that the police is yet to investigate the matter to find out the truth.

Fr. Cedric Prakash, director of an Ahmedabad-based human rights organisation termed allegation against Fr. Gonsalves as flimsy and fabricated and claimed in a press note that the complainant was an extortionist. Fr. Prakash said in the press note that her brother Ishwar Rana in a written statement had claimed that she indulged in anti-social activities for several years and described her as an extortionist and that she had terrorised many people in the area.

Fr. Praskh said that Fr. Gonsalves was arrested because he was a Christian and demanded his unconditional release. He claimed allegation of molestation against him is the handiwork of some people who were not a beneficiary of the housing project. 

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