The Kerala Police has asked Jalandhar diocese's Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused by a nun of raping her multiple times between 2014 and 2016, to appear before the investigating team on 19 September.
The decision to summon the clergyman was taken after a meeting chaired by Sakhare, Inspector General (Ernakulam range), which was also attended by Kottayam district superintendent of police Harisankar and Vaikom deputy superintendent of police K Subhash amid mounting pressure on police to initiate action against Mulakkal.
"We reviewed the entire case today (Wednesday) and there are contradictions in the statements of the victim, the accused and the witnesses. So, we have asked the bishop to appear before us on 19 September, when the Investigation Officer would question him.
"The contradictions in the statements have to be cleared, or else there could be issues," Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Sakhre told the media in Kochi soon after a review meeting on the case.
"Security to the complainant and the witnessess is there and we have registered cases against the death threats that the nuns have allegedly received," he added.
Industries Minister EP Jayarajan, deputising for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is off to the United States for treatment, told the media in the state capital that the government is with the victim.
"No one needs to be worried for anything and it's unfortunate that nuns have had to stage protests. We all know that the probe has been going on for a while now, but since it has to be submitted to the court, there just can't be any errors," Jayarajan was quoted as saying by IANS.
The nun had recently sought urgent intervention of the Vatican for justice and demanded the bishop's removal as the head of the Jalandhar diocese, questioning why the church was "closing its eyes to the truth" when she mustered courage to make public her sufferings. In a scathing letter to the Vatican that was made available to the media Tuesday, the nun also asked will the Church be able to give back what she has lost.
She alleged that Bishop Franco Mulakkal was using "political and money power" to bury the case against him. She had accused the clergyman of sexually assaulting her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016. The bishop had, however, dismissed the allegations as "baseless and concocted", insisting she levelled those as the Catholic order had rejected her demand for favours.
Mulakkal, on the other hand, has denied all allegations made against him, claiming there was a "conspiracy" against him and that the case was a tactic to pressure the government.
On Wednesday, a day-long protest before the state secretariat in Kochi was organised by the Joint Christian Council, whose indefinite relay fast at in the state capital entered its 5th day.
In the Kerala capital, joining the protesters was former state Congress president VM Sudheeran, who said the protests should not be mistaken as one against the Christian community.
"The police itself said that all the evidences are there with them in the case, then why are they hesitant to go forward? The state police chief is unable to go forward in this case and it's most unfortunate," said Sudheeran.
In Kochi, Wednesday saw more and more leaders — political and otherwise — visiting to the protest venue. They included top political leaders from various parties, civil society members and film personalities.
Coming to the defence of Mulakkal was his own diocese, which in a statement said that this is nothing but a conspiracy hatched against the bishop.
"This is just an allegation... The bishop had visited the nun's home for a function and she looked very happy also. According to her complaint, the previous day the bishop had abused her. If that were the case, could she be happy? Moreover, all the complaints surfaced after a lady came with a complaint against the nun," said the statement.
Popular Malayalam film personality Joy Mathew led a protest in Kozhikode against the callousness of the authorities in the case as the nun is yet to get justice.
Incidentally, the Kerala High Court will on Thursday look into an affidavit that it asked the state government to file detailing the steps taken on the complaint of a nun alleging that a bishop sexually abused her for three years.
"All the details in the case would be presented before the high court on Thursday in the affidavit," said Kottayam Superintendent of Police who is leading the probe.
It was in June that the victim alleged that Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar had sexually abused her several times between 2014 and 2016.
An FIR was registered against the bishop and a 114-page detailed statement was taken from the nun and other inmates of the convent. However, Mulakkal has denied any wrongdoing.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Sep 13, 2018 08:23 AM