Kannur: The police in Kerala on Sunday intensified the search to trace seven accused, including five nuns and a doctor, who are on the run since the arrest of a Catholic priest accused of raping an underage girl.
The five nuns and the gynaecologist of the church-run hospital, where the 16-year-old girl delivered a boy, continued to evade arrest. The search conducted for the second day on Sunday failed to yield any result, investigating officer Sunil Kumar told Press Trust of India. A helper, Thangamma, is among the accused absconding, he said.
Police had on Saturday said eight persons had been charged for their alleged role in hiding facts related to the case relating to the rape and subsequent delivery of the baby by the Class 11 student on February 7. They were booked under non-bailable sections.
Father Robin alias Mathew Vadakkancheril, who was the vicar of the local church at Kottiyoor in Kannur district and the prime accused in the case, was arrested on February 28. The girl, who attended the church-run school where the priest was the manager, had attended classes till February 6, a day before giving birth to the boy.
Meanwhile, Mananthavady Bishop Mar Jose Porunnedom on Sunday said the church would always be with the girl and her family. The church leadership had never tried to protect the accused, he said in a statement.
The Bishop also announced the removal of Church spokesperson Father Thomas Joseph Therakam, chairman of the Wyanad Child Welfare Committee (CWC), who is also at the centre of the controversy over the shifting of the girl’s baby from the hospital to a church orphanage.
Therakam, who has not yet been booked in the case, is also absconding.
“In this case, the church is with the victim and her family,” the bishop said adding all the accused should be brought before law and the church would give its full support. However, those not guilty should not be punished, he said.
The bishop had on Saturday apologised to the girl and her family.