The head of a missionary school and two other persons have been arrested in the alleged kidnap and gangrape of five women activists at Kochang village in Khunti district of Jharkhand earlier this week, the police said on Saturday.
Father Alfonso Alien of the missionary school, from where the victims were abducted, and two others spotted during an identification parade were arrested last night, Additional Director General of Police (ADG), RK Malik told reporters in Ranchi.
Father Alfonso, against whom an FIR was registered for aiding and abetting the crime, was, however, let off on personal bond after preliminary interrogation, he said.
The other two accused have been identified as Ajub Sandi Purti and Ashish Longo. Their statements have been recorded before the judicial magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC, and sent to judicial custody, the ADG said.
Four other persons have been identified in the case and they will be arrested soon, he said.
Two FIRs were registered in the heinous crime which took place on June 19. While one FIR was filed against unidentified persons at a women police station in Khunti district, another was filed against Father Alfonso in Arki police station on Thursday, Superintendent of Police Aswini Kumar Sinha had said.
The ADG said that the sordid incident was an outcome of a "conspiracy and vengeance" hatched by people involved in 'Pathalgarhi' (a practice in which villagers inscribe various tenets on huge stone slabs and ban outsiders in their area) and the naxal outfit of the Peoples Liberation Front of India (PLFI).
Malik said the accused came to the missionary school and forcibly took the victims to a nearby forest, where John Johanas Tidu, top leader of Pathalgarhi incidents in Khunti district, was waiting with several PLFI people to teach the activists a lesson.
The officer said Father Alfonso reportedly asked the victims to accompany the criminals and told them that they would be let off after some time.
The school head, however, asked the criminals to only let off two nuns working with him, Malik said.
The ADG said Father Alfonso was duty bound to report the matter to the police, but he tried to hush the matter.
To a question as to why the school head was released on personal bond when he was clearly found abetting the crime, the police officer said that as soon as more concrete and corroborative evidences would be found, the police would take appropriate action.
Khunti Superintendent of Police, Aswini Kumar Sinha had earlier said Rs 50,000 would be given to those giving information about the absconding accused in the case.