Catholic priest let off on bail after 7-day detention


KOCHI, September 17 : Fr Binoy John, a Catholic priest hailing from Thodupuzha in Kerala, who was arrested by Jharkhand Police on charges of encroaching upon tribal land and forcible conversion, was on September 15 released on bail after week-long detention.

Fr Binoy, son of Yohannan, ‘Vadakkedathuparambil’, Kalayanthani, Thodupuzha, had been arrested by Deodard police and sent to Godda District Jail on judicial custody on September 7. According to Yohannan, his son was working under Bhagalpur diocese of the Archdiocese of Patna for the past four years. He also ran a prayer centre at Rajatha in Godda district.

As it came to light that the priest, a cardiac patient, was sent to jail ignoring his health condition, Idukki MP Dean Kuriakose took up the matter with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Prime Minister’s Office and the National Human Rights Commission, following which he was shifted to Godda District Hospital on Sunday night.

Dean, who arrived in Godda on Monday, said the court granted bail to Fr Bijoy and he was released on Monday night. “He was victimised by some local people who were trying to encroach upon tribal land. Fr Bijoy is a heart patient and he survives on a pacemaker implant. The police produced a forged medical certificate before the magistrate hiding his health condition to ensure that he was sent to jail. In the jail he developed pain but the jail authorities denied him medical assistance. He was administered pain relievers when he sought medical aid,” said Dean.

According to Dean, the 42-year-old priest had been working in Jharkhand for the past four years and he never ever baptised a person. Jharkhand had passed an Anti-Conversion Bill in 2017 which has provision for imprisonment up to three years and a fine of `50,000 for people who try to convert people.

“He was ordained as a priest in 2015 and had been working in Jharkhand for the past four years. He underwent a heart surgery at a hospital in Ernakulam a year ago and was recuperating. We were concerned about his health after the church authorities informed us of his arrest. The news about his release has come as a great relief for us,” said Yohannan.

source: Indian Express

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