Molested by Delhi official in place of worship, minor tells police
It was because of the alleged molestation incidents in the church premises that the minor stopped going there from July onwards, the girl has told the police
The 51-year-old Delhi government official Premoday Khakha, now suspended and arrested, allegedly molested the minor girl at the independent Amazing Grace church in Burari — a small cult of sorts of 30-odd families that is not affiliated to any official diocese — whenever he saw her there after February 2021, police said, citing the statement of the 17-year-old rape survivor.
This was a time when the girl, who was in Khakha’s care after her father’s death, was allegedly raped and impregnated by him at his home in Burari between October 2020 and January 2021, and had returned to her mother’s house after her pregnancy was terminated, police added.
It was because of the alleged repeated molestation incidents in the church premises that the minor stopped going there from July onwards, the girl has told the police.
Allegations of “bad touch” by Khakha, and “touching hands appropriately” at the church are also mentioned in the first information report (FIR) registered on August 13 based on her first statement recorded by police under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) on August 12, at least two police officers associated with the case, told HT.
The molestation allegations highlight that the sexual harassment by the official was not limited to Khakha’s house but also at the place of worship where the two families first met in 1998, and formed a bond over the years. It has also given the police reasons to probe the role of the church, its officials, and its members, in their ongoing investigation.
To be sure, Amazing Grace is not affiliated to any official diocese or formal denomination, and is a private place of worship founded in 1992 by Ajit Kumar Horo who serves as its pastor. It has changed locations twice — moving from Shahdara to Mukherjee Nagar in 2002 and Burari in 2015. It now operates from a two-storey building in Himgiri Enclave residential colony.
Deputy commissioner of police (north) Sagar Singh Kalsi said the investigating team will visit the premises as part of its investigation into the molestation allegations that the girl has made and collect necessary evidence. “The team is likely to visit the church Tuesday evening,” said Kalsi. He declined to elaborate on the ongoing probe.
According to the girl’s statement, the molestation occurred after the repeated rape and subsequent abortion between October 2020 and January 2021. The girl returned to her mother’s house in February 2021 by telling her that she did not want to continue living with the Khakhas. However, she said in the statement that she never told her mother about the rape and abortion, said one of the officers who asked not to be identified.
“Although the girl has not mentioned the dates or months when Khakha allegedly touched her inappropriately during her visits to the church, we believe that the molestation happened after she returned to her mother. We will now visit the church and speak with its founder, members and the caretakers to know if they had noticed the sexual harassment or inappropriate touches. Their statement will also be recorded. The footage of CCTV installed at the church will also be examined,” added the officer.
The management at Amazing Grace said that no member had noticed or knew about the sexual harassment by Khakha, as alleged by the girl, in the church premises. The person in charge of the place of worship, Anil Daang, said: “Members shaking each other’s hand is a common ritual that is practised at our church. But other physical contact such as hugging or kissing is not allowed here. There are nearly 120 people who attend the prayer meet every Sunday. The entire church is covered by 16 CCTV cameras. The girl or her mother never told us about the sexual harassment.”
The founder, Horo, and other members of the congregation on Monday said that they never noticed Khakha harassing the girl, and pointed out that the families have known each other for nearly 25 years.
A few of them, however, said they had noticed for the past some weeks that the Khakhas and the girl’s family were not warm towards each other.
Khakha, who served as deputy director in Delhi’s women and child department (WCD), and his wife Seema Rani, 50, were arrested on Monday, after a 17-year-old girl, who lived in their Burari home for about five months after her father’s death, alleged that the man raped her multiple times.