Kerala: Nuns Threaten To Resume Protest If No Chargesheet Is Filed Against Rape Accused Bishop
Three months after the arrest of rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the five nuns who were previously rallying for the arrest of the Bishop, have threatened to once again begin a protest if a chargesheet is not filed. According to the nuns, who led a protest against the Bishop earlier said that the state government is yet to appoint a public prosecutor as well. The Hindustan Times reported sister Anupama as saying, “We fear a deliberate attempt to weaken the case. If the situation continues like this, we will be forced to hit the streets again.”
What had happened?
It had been previously reported that Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the former head of the diocese of Jalandhar was accused of repeatedly raping a nun of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation in Kerala since 2014. As her plea to the church authorities went unheard, she finally lodged a complaint against the bishop in the month of June 2018. In the month of August 2018, the Bishop was charged under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code following the complaint of the nun. The police failed to arrest him due to lack of evidence.
After the police refused to arrest the accused after interrogating him in Jalandhar, five nuns of the congregation of the Missionaries of Jesus started to stage a protest in front of the Kerala High Court on September 8, 2018, to seek justice of their fellow church member. Reportedly, the Kerala High Court on September 10 had asked the police to submit a report on the action that had been undertaken since the complaint was filed. According to the sources, one of the nuns has said, “The police have repeatedly taken the statement of the victim nun, but they have taken Franco Mulakkal’s statement only once. It’s been 74 days since she gave a complaint, but other than police questioning the victim, we don’t see any other progress.”
Despite severe criticism by the congregation and the mental harassment faced by their family members, the determination of the five nuns to fight for justice was not shaken. According to News18, the congregation said, “We strongly condemn the protest in Kochi. We cannot crucify an innocent soul based on such allegations”.
According to the sources, from September 19 to September 20, the Kerala Police at the Kochi Crime Branch Office in Tripunithura interrogated Franco. On September 21, the accused bishop Mulakkal was arrested. However, on 15th October 2018, he was granted a conditional bill. The Kerala High Court ordered Franco Mulakkal to surrender his passport to the court. He was also forbidden to enter Kerala by the Kerala High Court.
In the meantime, the death of the prime witness to the case, Father Kuriakose, further complicated the situation. Kuriakose was found dead in his room on October 22. According to the sources, there was no injury found on his body. However, signs of vomiting were there and medicines of blood pressure near him have been found. Reportedly, a preliminary postmortem report suggests that Father Kuriakose died a natural death as no internal or external injury has been found. But his family members suspect that he had been murdered since he was in favour of the nun who was allegedly raped.