Body of nun found floating in convent well in Kollam district of Kerala; deceased belonged to Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church

The body of a 55-year-old nun was found inside the well of the Mount Tabor Dayara Convent at Pathanapuram in Kollam district on Sunday. The deceased, Sister Susan, was a teacher at St Stephen's School, attached to the convent.

According to police officials, blood stains were found from inside her room and near the well from where the body was found on Sunday morning, reported PTI. The police also said that they received information about the body in the well at 9 am. The police examined the nun's room and other premises of the convent and recorded statements of the members.

A senior police officer said, “There were self-inflicted injuries on her wrists. The left cut was more severe and deep. The injury on the right wrist was comparatively small." The official added that more details would be available after a post-mortem.

"The nun was under treatment for epilepsy and had consulted doctors on Saturday as well. She seemed normal on Saturday night and had dinner with other inmates of the convent. Sunday morning when others went for morning mass, she stayed back saying she is not feeling well. When the other nuns returned from the church they found her body in the well. The cause of death is currently unknown," B Asokan, District Police Chief, Kollam Rural told The Hindu.

Other inmates of the convent initially came across blood stains near the well and then found her body floating by 9 am. Blood stains were also found inside her room, nearly 50 metres away from the well, police said.

Police and fire department personnel rushed to the scene and carried out an inquest. A case of unnatural death was registered and the body was sent for post-mortem to Government Medical College in Thiruvananthapuram while the police waited for the nun’s relatives to arrive.

Local TV channels quoted inmates of the convent as saying that the deceased nun was under depression for some time, but police did not confirm the claims, reported PTI.

Both the school and the convent are run by the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church based in Kottayam, according to

Kollam District Congress Committee president Bindu Krishna termed the death as shocking and demanded an impartial probe.

This is not the first controversial murder case involving a nun in Kerala. In 1992, the murder of Sister Abhaya, under similar circumstances, had shocked the state. Sister Abhaya’s murder is the longest running murder investigation in the state. Abhaya's body was found in the well of St Pius Convent in Kottayam on 27 March 1992. She was an inmate of the convent. Initially, the case was investigated by local police and state crime branch, which concluded that Abhaya had committed suicide.

However, the case was taken over by CBI on 29 March 1993. In 2008, the agency arrested two priests — Father Thomas Kottoor, Father Jose Poothrikkayiland — and a nun, Sister Sephy on the charge of murder. According to prosecution, Kottoor and Poothrikkayil allegedly had an illicit relationship with Sephy, also an inmate of the convent.

On the night of 27 March 1992, Abhaya allegedly saw Kottoor and Sephy in a compromising position, following which the three accused hacked her to death with an axe and threw her body into the well, CBI had said in its chargesheet. The accused were arrested in 2008 and released on bail by the Kerala High Court a year later.

Recently, another scandal involving the Church has emerged with a nun in Kottayam alleging that Roman Catholic Church Bishop, Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese, had unnatural sex with her multiple times between 2014 and 2016. A special team probing the case said that as per preliminary investigation, Bishop Franco abused his position and repeatedly raped the nun.

On 8 September, nuns in Kottayam took to the streets to protest against the alleged laxities in the probe. Joining a dharna organised by various Catholic organisations seeking reforms in the church, the nuns alleged that the victim had been denied justice by the Catholic Church, police and the government, as no action has been initiated against Mulakkal.

Kerala's churches have witnessed multiple scandals which involve allegations of sexual exploitation by church priests, revealing the dark side of the religious institutions.

Updated Date: Sep 10, 2018 12:32 PM

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