The city police, on Wednesday, arrested a 40-year-old Congress activist on the charge of sexually exploiting two orphaned minor girls under his care.

R. Jaya Sanil, Sub-Inspector, Poonthura, identified the suspect as Vincent Joseph, a local resident and “self-proclaimed” social activist in the coastal neighbourhood.

Mr. Sanil said the victims were sisters aged 14 and 12. They were abandoned by their father after their mother committed suicide. Subsequently, Vincent took them into his care and provided for their boarding at the house of a distant relative of his, and also paid for their tuition at a school in the district.

The Sub Inspector, who questioned the girls in the presence of women police officers and counsellors, said Vincent had been sexually exploiting the sisters since early 2010.

The traumatised children brought their ordeal to the attention of their school authorities. The police recorded the statements of the children and their teachers.

Investigators said the accused sexually exploited the girls after taking them to remote localities in the district in his car.

The girls are likely to state their case on their own to the magistrate in camera under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The police arrested Vincent on the charges of kidnapping and raping the girls under Section 376 and 356 of the Indian Penal Code. He will be produced before the Judicial First Class Magistrate court on Thursday.