The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council yesterday dismissed a priest after police filed human trafficking charges against him.
Father Jaison Kollannur, who was secretary of the Kerala bishops’s council youth commission, was charged last month as part of a ring of five people who allegedly tried to traffic 42 young Indians to Houston, Texas, under the pretext of attending a student exchange program which ended in June.
“The accused, including the priest, faked certificates to support that 42 persons were experts working in the education sector,” said Amose Mammen, assistant commissioner of the police Crime Records Bureau in Kochi.
Fr Kollannur will also face an internal probe by the bishops’ council following his dismissal, said Kerala council spokesman Stephen Alathara.
“It’s most unfortunate that the priest misused his official position,” he added.
State Home Minister Thiruvanchiyur Radhakrishnan said he had directed the director general of police to make a detailed probe into trafficking networks in Kerala.
“We will be taking action against those found guilty,” he said. “I warn people not to fall into the trap set by these networks.”
According to Hemachandran, additional director general of police for the south of India, the case was flagged when the US consulate in Chennai told police that seven people taking part in visa interviews did not have the required education qualifications.
Police said Fr Kollannur allegedly offered jobs to Catholic youth members in exchange for 155,000 rupees (US$3,000) each as an advance. About six million rupees is thought to have been transferred through youth commission bank accounts.
During eight hours of questioning, Fr Kollannur confessed to his involvement in human trafficking as a means of raising cash for foreign trips, police said, adding that he received 55,000 rupees for sending each person to the US.