A 47-year-old woman in Kerala has alleged that she was suspended from her job on the same day when she accused a priest - head of a rehabilitation centre run by the Church of South India (CSI) - of sex harassment.
"The priest passed sexually coloured remarks at me, and tried to grope me when we were in a office room with very little space. I tried to move away. When I came out and told another woman who was waiting for me, she told me to let go because we have families to feed," the woman told NDTV. The incident happened on January 23, she said.
The woman says she filed a police complaint on January 29, a day after a group of men created an uproar outside the rehabilitation centre and threatened her.
"I filed the case in the morning at around 9. By 2 pm, I was called to the police station to give my statement. I waited for around four hours, but the police official didn't arrive. But two men, known to the priest, came to talk me out of my complaint. Soon after that, as I was returning to my workplace, I got a call saying I have been suspended," she recalled.
The woman, a widow, worked as a matron at the rehabilitation centre. She has "two daughters to provide for", she said. "I was compelled to go to the police only because I was worried about the children in the rehabilitation centre being affected," she added.
A governing body of the Church of South India met on Thursday afternoon to discuss the issue.
Dr Rose Bist, the secretary of the CSI, told NDTV, "These accusations are baseless. The claims have been made because of internal politics."
"The woman was suspended before she filed the complaint with the police. She was fired for indiscipline and insubordinate behaviour."
The police has filed a case of obscene remarks amounting to sexual harassment, criminal trespass against the priest. "We have filed a case based on the complaint but the preliminary investigation is only underway," police officer in-charge said. No action has been taken against the accused so far.