The team of GoaChronicle.com and IndianExpose.com through its research arm ProtectCore have conducted a study over the last 3 months on the nature of crimes committed by religious leaders – Nuns, Priests, Pastors, Bishop and Archbishop – from the Christian community in India and those of Indian origin living abroad.
The focus was on crimes between 2014 till 2019 (January).
These crimes have been registered with police authorities across different states in India. Some of these cases have been reported in media.
Our study highlighted that there were a 96 cases registered against clergy of Christian faith in India and a shocking 8 by clergy of India origin outside the country in United States of America and United Kingdom.
Of the crimes committed, the study revealed that 80 per cent of the crimes committed by the clergy were of sexual abuse.
In the total of 83 cases of sexual abuse of the 104 cases: We further investigated to find out, that 56 of the sexual abuse cases were against minors between the age of 5 to 17 years.
In this expose we showcase the 7 murder cases against clergy in India:
St Stanislaus Church, Walayar
On July 23, 2013, Roselin’s 17-year-old daughter Fathima Sophia was found dead in the guest room of Father Arockiaraj, the priest of St Stanislaus Church in Walayar, on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Police registered a case of suicide and the matter was soon closed.
Father Arockiaraj allegedly confessed to the victim’s mother that he killed her, there is a ‘letter’ that pointed to a relationship between Sophia and Arockiaraj.
Fr Arockiaraj, who is accused of killing the girl, was arrested in December 2015 and is now out on conditional bail. He has now been booked for rape and sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Interestingly in this case, the Catholic Church conducted a Canonical trial presided over by Coimbatore diocese Bishop Thomas Aquinas, it had ended with the Bishop saying that he has to write to Rome for “not to say Mass”, which literally translates to suspension from priestly duties. However, the Catholic Church never reported the matter to the local authorities about the abuse of a minor girl child and subsequent murder.
In his confessions during the canonical trial Fr Arockiaraj stated that he had bodily contact with the minor and that he used her.
In fact Sophia’s murder Roselin conducted a sting operation that brought out the truth of the crime of sexual abuse and murder:
In June 2015, with the help of a relative journalist who worked for a local TV channel, she organised a sting operation against the priest.
She called him and told him that Sophia kept appearing in her dreams, asking her why she had “not sought answers from Father”. She requested him to meet her at the Tirupur bus stand. Arockiaraj now lives in Tirupur with his family.
That day, Roselin arrived with a microphone tucked in the folds of her green sari. The TV crew stationed across the road filmed the meeting.
Following the telecast of the sting operation on Zee Tamil TV channel, in which Arockiaraj is seen confessing, Roselin’s house was attacked, the Church organised massive protests in Coimbatore and Roselin was excommunicated.
But here is an excerpt of Fr Arockiaraj revelation during the sting operations reported in media, ““We used to go out often. No other person has touched her. All that happened (that day) was, I wanted to prevent her from making noise. So I used her shawl (dupatta) to silence her. It was an accident, trust me. I didn’t plan it. It was not planned.”
Pastor Millan Singh
Church at Narippaiyur, Ukkirankottai
In 2016, Pastor Millan Singh an intimate relationship with a member of his church Anbu Stella, as a result of which she became pregnant. Anbu Stella compelled him to marry her. But, Millan Singh did not want to marry her. He allegedly murdered her. Anbu Stella’s father Gnanam, who could not contact her, filed a complaint with Kuruvikulam police against Pastor Millan Singh. During investigation, the murder of Anbu Stella came to light. Subsequently, Kaveripakkam police arrested Millan Singh and Jeevitha (an accomplice in the murder).
Fr. Mathukutty Munnattumugham
The victim, a girl named Sreya, was attending a Christmas retreat camp in the Accept Kripa Bhavan, near Alapuzha along with 67 Sunday school students.
She was found dead in a pond on December 17, 2010.
A medical officer who conducted the autopsy stated that bite marks found on the lower lip of the dead girl were not self-inflicted and caused by another person.
An investigation report in the crime revealed that the fingerprints recovered at the scene belonged to Father Mathukutty,
The Crime Branch wing of the state police named Father Mathukutty Munnattumugham of Changanassery archdiocese as their main suspect in a report filed on Thursday before the Kerala High Court in 2014.
Krishnapuram Church, Arakkonam
In October 2017, a girl Julie from Krishnapuram, committed suicide on September 27.
Julie’s brother Adham filed a complaint in Arakkonam rural police claiming that her sister’s death was suspicious and that a religious leader was responsible for her after finding the death note from Julie.
On the basis of the police filed a case, the investigation revealed that Juli’s suicide was due to Dharmalingam (52) from Krishnapuram New colony who promised her to marry.
The Pentecostal Mission Tuticorin
Pastor Kanagaraj was ministering at a Pentecostal church. An announcement was made on 4th September 2016 that he passed away suddenly. He had a small injury in his jaw. Police at SIPCOT registered a case. Many doubts were raised over his death repeatedly. Therefore his internal organs were sent for investigation to Madurai and it was confirmed that it was a murder. The death case was converted into murder case on 22/11/2016.
The police in their investigations questioned Pastor Titus (31) who hails from Vaathiyaarvilai, Nagercoil and checked his cellular phone, it was found that he had connections with the murder. Police enquired regarding the reason for his death, he said that pastor did not allow him to minister at other branches and wanted him to stay in the center which infuriated him.
Taking assistance of his brother Anto (29), and a friend Raghu (35) on 4th September 2016 night when the pastor was asleep, they pressed his face with the pillow, and suffocated him to death.
Titus has been arrested and Andro and Raghu are being investigated.
Pastor Varla Subbarayudu
Pastor from Boyanapalle
Cuddappah, Andhra Pradesh
A woman, Kommi Indira (36) was allegedly killed by pastor Varla Subbarayudu in May 2018.
According to police, Subbarayudu had an extramarital affair with Indira, who was coming to his church.
However, he was suspicious that she was having an illicit affair with another man.
On Saturday morning, Subbarayudu came to the house of Indira and entered into a heated argument with her.
In a fit of anger, he battered her to death. Even, he attacked Indira’s sister children, Tarun and Kusuma, who tried to stop him from attacking Indira.
Later, he fled from the spot. Locals immediately shifted Indira to area hospital in Rajampet, where she was declared brought dead.
Rajampet DSP Lakshminarayana visited the crime spot.
The police registered a case and launched a hunt to nab Subbarayudu.
Bethany Church, TC Palya
In a May 2018, a pastor’s estranged wife was hacked 15 times with a machete by his girlfriend’s brother.
Prem a pastor at Bethany Church in TC Palya had a relationship with a girl named Monisha which had soured his 20-year-old marriage. Lumina, the estranged wife filed a divorce petition against her husband, accusing him of having an illicit relationship with Monisha. The couple has three children.
Acting on Lumina’s statement, Mahadevapura police arrested Prem, Monisha and Rohit (girlfriend’s brother). In his statement, Rohit said Prem promised to marry Monisha if he killed Lumina. “With an intention to kill Lumina, I went near the house on the night of May 29 and attacked her with a machete when she came out with her younger son,” police said quoting Rohit.
According to police, Lumina received at least 15 gashes on her body.