New Delhi: The Bethel Gospel Pentecostal Church at Seawood – whose pastor was earlier arrested for molesting children – was demolished on Friday in a joint operation by the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) and CIDCO based on the recommendations made by the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) after complaints of sexual abuse of children emerged.
A total of 45 children have been rescued from the illegal children’s home run by the Bethel Gospel Church in Navi Mumbai. The church was demolished by bulldozers on the recommendations made by the NCPCR after children living there complained of sexual abuse.
The NCPCR took cognizance of the matter after three children living in the shelter filed a complaint against Pastor Rajkumar Yesudasan, alleging that he had been sexually exploiting them. One of the minor girls, reportedly, also had to undergo an abortion, according to information given to the NCPCR.
It is believed that several minors living there had been trafficked from various states.
NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo along with another official visited the children’s home on 8 October, after complaints to the state government did not yield any result. During the visit, the team interacted with the Investigating Officer, District Child Protection Officer and a member residing in the shelter.
During their investigation, the NCPCR team found that the minor children residing in the church-run shelter home had been brought to the Navi Mumbai church by a man called Vinod from Rajasthan and Odisha among other states.
On Friday, a large number of civic officials accompanied by heavy machinery visited plot number 29 in sector 48 of the Seawoods area to demolish the church. Heavy police deployment was done to prevent any untoward incident.
“There were some inmates in the shelter who were yet to be rehabilitated and hence there was delay. The police department shifted the remaining two women and one man a couple of days back. They had been residing here and hence had to be moved,” Nerul ward officer Mitali Sancheti, said.
The NCPCR has recommended to the Maharashtra government that all the rescued children should be produced before the CWC and given proper counselling, compensation and should also be rehabilitated in a safer place.
It has also sought action against errant officials who did not heed earlier complaints and were responsible for allowing illegal use of government property. The child rights body has also demanded an action taken report within 15 days after the completion of a fresh investigation into the trafficking and abuse of minors.