Indian Christians demand release of "framed" Jesuit
The Christians of Gujarat have demanded the immediate release of Fr Prasad Gonsalves of the Catholic Ashram in Radhanpur, who was arrested on Monday on allegedly false allegations.
Fr Gonsalves was arrested and jailed on the basis of false accusations made by a woman who claimed he tried to convert and have sex with her.
Christian leaders have called on the Gujarat state government to immediately intervene and secure the unconditional release of the Fr Prasad Gonsalves, who was arrested "only because he is a missionary".
Fr Gonsalves was sent to jail by a court in Radhanpur after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP) convinced Shanteben Gulabbhai from Jawaharnagar village to press charges against him.
Two months ago Ms Gulabbhai had asked Fr Gonsalves for help in finding a place to live in her district, which is located some 300 km from the Banaskantha district (northern Gujarat) where the Jesuit priest is a trustee of the local Catholic Ashram, which runs a low-cost housing project for the poor and disadvantaged.
The priest had told the woman that he could not help given the great distance between them. After being turned down she went to the police to press charges against him only to change her mind later saying that she just wanted to get back at the Jesuit. Fr Gonsalves eventually said he would try to do something to help the woman.
Falsely accused priest arrested in Gujarat (AsiaNews.it 9/3/05)
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Catholic Bishops Conference of India
Gujarat Christians Demand Immediate Release Of Jesuit Priest From Judicial Custody (Catholic Bishops Conference of India 9/3/05)
10 Mar 2005