Kerala nun rape: Activists burn effigy of accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal outside Crime Branch as questioning continues
Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of rape by a Kerala nun, is being interrogated for the second day by the Special Investigating Team, even as protests continue in Kochi demanding his arrest for the sexual abuse.
Even as the Kerala Police question rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal for the second day, protests continued in Kochi on Thursday, with people burning his effigy, as well. The police are interrogating the clergyman in the case of a nun's rape. She has accused the clergyman of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016, but Mulakkal maintains his innocence.
Workers of the All India Youth Federation (AIYF) — the youth wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) — have been protesting outside the Crime Branch, burning Mulakkal's effigy and demanding his arrest. The activists have protesting since Wednesday, when they jumped in front of the Jalandhar bishop's car and shouted slogans after his questioning ended.
Mulakkal, who had recently relinquished his administrative responsibilities as the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese, joined the probe around 11 am at the Crime Branch office at Thrippunithura in Kochi around 11 am. He was asked to appear for questioning for the second time, after the Special Investigation Team grilled him for seven hours on Wednesday.
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Before resuming the interrogation, Kottayam Superintendent of Police Hari Sankar said they had completed around 50 percent of the questioning and hoped to complete the interrogation by Thursday evening. He said investigators are trying to solve and make sense of the contradictions in the statements of the nun, witnesses and the accused in the case.
When asked about the contradictions on Wednesday, Sankar had said: "That's the purpose of the interrogation. The interrogation is not over. We will reflect on it after it is over."
The Kerala-based nun has accused the senior Catholic priest of sexually assaulting her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016 at a convent run by the Jalandhar diocese in Kottayam district. The clergyman has claimed that the allegations against him were a "cooked up story to wreak vengeance" for the actions he had taken on various complaints received against the nun. Claiming innocence, the bishop has said that the allegation of rape was "nothing but a fictional story".
As the bishop joined the investigation, a protest by various Catholic reform organisations and a group of nuns seeking his arrest entered its 13th day on Thursday.
A nun protesting at Kochi's Vanchi Square with the others said they all were waiting for news of the bishop's arrest because it would send a strong message to those who abuse women in the country.
The rape survivor's sister, a nun who has been on a hunger strike, was hospitalised on Wednesday as her health deteriorated. A march was organised to the office of the Inspector General of Police in Kochi seeking the bishop's arrest.
The secretary of the Mother Superior of the Jalandhar diocese, Sister Alphonso, on Thursday said that the rape allegations were false, reported India Today. She also alleged that if the nun was raped multiple times for two years, why was she happy with the bishop during that time.
With inputs from agencies
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