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Times of India

Mumbai, April 1: Former Fatima High School principal Fr Philip Gonsalves, accused of molesting a student’s mother , surrendered to the Powai police on Friday morning even as a city police team — unaware of the move — left for Bhopal to bring him back.

Fr Gonsalves was accompanied by advocate Vivian D’Souza and Franciscan order provincial Fr Michael Fernandes and was released on a personal bond of Rs 2,000. Officials said on Friday that he was accused of molesting a student’s mother and not any student as a section of policemen told TOI on Thursday.

He was questioned for nearly two hours at the Powai police station and was asked to appear again on Saturday for the probe.

The Powai police, which has registered an FIR under section 354 of IPC (non-bailable charge of molestation), now wants to question Fr Gonsalves once more before deciding on what to do next.

A crowd of local parishoners gathered outside the Vidyavihar school and shouted slogans in his favour. They dispersed after advocate D’Souza told them the law would take its own course.

The FIR accuses Fr Gonsalves of molesting Sheetal when she approached him for help after her daughter, ninth-standard student Kamla (names altered), failed in the year-ending examination. Sheetal wanted Kamla to skip class IX and appear directly for her SSC examination.

Fr Gonsalves, then principal of the school, allegedly promised Sheetal that he could arrange a seat from some other school, called her to his office on many occasions so that she could “fill up the forms’’ and then molested her, the FIR says.

But police officials are puzzled and have raised questions about the nature of the complaint. They say they are not sure why Sheetal chose to lodge a complaint now when the alleged harassment and molestation started last year.

The church instituted an inquiry last year and then was advised to send Fr Gonsalves somewhere else to pre-empt further “complications’’. Two Christian organisations, the All-India Christian Council and the Catholic Secular Forum, have said the are several loopholes in the allegation but the BJP has said he should be arrested.


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