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Church leader in cop custody

Shillong, Oct. 9: A church leader who has been accused of crimes against children was today remanded in 10 days’ police custody by a local court.

Rev. Sang Kunga Miller of the New Life Church was brought to the court under tight security on a day when the city came to a grinding halt in view of a strike imposed by a pressure group.

“The police had requested the court to grant 14 days’ remand of Rev. Miller, but only 10 days were provided to interrogate the church leader,” government counsel I.C. Jha said.

He said Miller would again be produced before the court on October 18.

Yesterday, Miller was brought from the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) hospital to the Sadar police station. Miller, 65, was arrested on September 28 evening, but police interrogation against him was delayed following his hospitalisation from the day of his arrest.

He was first admitted to the Shillong Civil Hospital on September 28 and was later shifted to NEIGRIHMS. Miller was accused of rape, molestation, exploitation and sexual abuse against minors in the hostel run by him known as the New Life Home. He also runs Beth Memorial School.

The church leader was arrested following complaints lodged by Civil Society Women’s Organisation president Agnes Kharshiing on September 27.

Kharshiing said Miller was exploiting minor children between the ages seven to 17 years.

In a separate complaint, Kharshiing had also said Miller had raped a 17-year-old girl in the hostel owned by him.

Apart from the complaints lodged by Kharshiing, another social activist, Angela Rangad, had also lodged a FIR against Miller. It alleged that he had indulged in sexual offences against minors, including trafficking of children for exploitation by using false promises and misrepresentation.

Rangad also said he was involved in luring a 15-year-old village girl to stay with his family at New Life Home in the name of education, when she was just eight years old.

Around 20 pressure groups and NGOs had met chief minister Mukul Sangma on Friday where they had sought for long-term interventions to prevent child abuse, exploitation and sexual offences in the state.

Led by the Lympung Ki Seng Kynthei, the groups submitted suggestions to the government on the dire need to protect and promote the rights of the children and the vulnerable.

The groups had also demanded strong child protection policy legislation along the lines of the Goa Children’s Act 2003.

Their other demands included setting up of a directorate of prosecution to specifically look into crimes against women and children, mechanisms to ensure compulsory registration and regular inspections of all schools, orphanages and other institutions and independent counsellors for children.

They also suggested for strengthening the support mechanisms for children in need of care and protection, besides publicity campaigns to highlight child rights.

Sangma was also urged to ensure that till the completion of the investigations and judicial processes, the authorities should not grant bail to Rev. Miller.

The civil society groups have rallied behind the eight children, who were allegedly exploited, molested and abused by the church leader.


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