Eby Varghese (name changed) heaved a sigh of relief when the first arrest in the sex scandal, which has shaken the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala, was made on Thursday. He has been waging a battle against a prominent religious institution.
Following Eby’s complaint that his wife was blackmailed and sexually abused by five priests of the church, DGP directed the case to the Crime Branch for investigation.
On Thursday, the second accused in the case, Fr Job Mathew was taken into custody by the Crime Records Bureau Kollam. While it is not confirmed that the 40-year-old priest, a native of Kollam, surrendered or was apprehended, Eby tells TNM that he is happy that the priest was arrested.
“I think the investigation is making headway and is going in the proper channel, which might have forced the priest to surrender,” he says.
Eby sounded much relieved when he spoke over the phone on Thursday. He had been under huge pressure to lead the fight against the Church.
“I didn’t want to be caught up in such a situation; but now that I am, I would stop only after justice is ensured,” he says.
Eby says that his wife is also much relieved now, “as she has survived a big tragedy."
“I hope she won’t be subjected to any kind of abuse anymore. I hope they won’t use her confession secret to abuse her or blackmail her again. They had threatened to inform me, which will destroy our family. Now, it has all come to an end,” he says.
Eby said he met his wife at her parents’ home in Thiruvalla a couple of times.
“I have met her a couple of times. However, she is not in the state of mind to come out of the house or to meet people,” he says.
Eby insists that he is not against the Church, but the accused priests. However, he has been getting advice from his fellow church members, stating that what he is doing is wrong.
“While some say that the world won’t turn good with my determination, others say that I have disgraced the family’s name and that I have not thought of my daughter. Some are anxious how I would be able to live when the accused priests are out after punishment," he says, quickly adding, "But I am determined."
When asked if he has been receiving any threats, Eby says, “It’s not like the old times, right? People who want to kill you won’t just threaten you; they would instead kill you and leave. Some might even try to trap you in a drug or sexual abuse."