Kerala rape case: Nun supporters refute Ravi Pujari link, say only accused Franco Mulakkal's followers have money to hire gangster
Supporters of bishop Franco Mulakkal, including Kerala MLA PC George, are claiming that intervention of gangster Ravi Pujari in the Kerala nun rape case, is a vindication of their allegation that the rape charge is part of a conspiracy to destroy the bishop
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has confirmed that Ravi Pujari called Kerala MLA PC George from South Africa but denied any knowledge about the contents of the conversation
The MLA, who has reportedly received the calls on 11 and 12 January, 2019, said that the callers had asked him to recant his defence of the bishop
Supporters of bishop Franco Mulakkal say that the intervention of the gangster is a vindication of their allegation that the rape charge is part of a conspiracy to destroy the bishop
DSP K Subhash, also the investigating officer in the case, said that the police had not come across any external agency supporting the nuns so far
Kerala independent legislator PC George’s claim that gangster Ravi Pujari had threatened to murder one of his sons because of his support to Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal in the nun’s rape case has given a new twist to the sensational case rocking the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
George, who has been pointing fingers at the nuns, ever since the rape survivor filed a complaint with the Kerala police in June 2018, said he had received two Internet calls from a person who introduced himself as Ravi Pujari in a mix of English and Hindi and a third call from a person who spoke fluent Malayalam.
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has confirmed that the calls were made by the gangster from South Africa but denied any knowledge about the contents of the conversation. The agency found this while examining Pujari's phone call records after he was arrested by the Senegal police on 22 January.
Pujari, a member of the Chotta Rajan gang, is wanted in India for a number of cases including extortion, kidnapping and murder. The Government of India has launched the process to get him extradited from Senegal.
Pujari is also wanted by the Kerala Police in connection with a shooting incident on 15 December, 2018, at a beauty parlour owned by actor Maria Paul in Kochi. Police investigation revealed that the shooting incident was intended to claim Rs 19 crores from the actress to settle a debt with a client of the gangster.
The MLA, who has reportedly received the calls on 11 and 12 January, 2019, alleged that the callers had asked him to recant his defence of the bishop.
Supporters of the bishop, as well as George, now claim that the intervention of the gangster is a vindication of their allegation that the rape charge levelled by the nun, who belongs to Jalandhar-based Missionaries of Jesus, is part of a conspiracy to destroy the bishop.
George Joseph, a former superintendent of police and a strong defender of the bishop, claims that Pujari may have intervened against the bishop as a campaign launched by the Jalandhar diocese against the drug mafia had hurt him and his clients. He alleged that the gangster might have used the nuns to trap the bishop.
"I have reason to doubt since the Kerala Police case against the bishop is very weak. The evidence they have gathered so far is not enough to prosecute him. The nuns and their supporters know this and, therefore, I am not surprised if they are trying pressure tactics,” he added.
Kennedy Karimpinkalayil of the ‘Save Syro Malabar Church Forum’ said that the huge amount being spent by the nuns and their supporters for organising campaigns against the bishop and the church was proof of external support they have been getting.
He also pointed out an international video conference held by Father Augustine Vattoly, former convenor of the ‘Save our Sisters’ Forum’ as a proof of the international connections of the nuns’ team. He alleged that the priest, who was served with a show cause notice for his anti-church activities, had maligned the image of the church at the conference.
However, George Joseph of the Kerala Church Reform Movement (KCRM), which is supporting the nuns, said the conference was organised by KCRM’s unit in the US to rally support for the nuns and it had nothing to do with any international agencies trying to destroy the Jalandhar bishop.
Joseph ( from KCRM) said that the entry of the underworld don in the scene could be part of the attempt by the bishop and his supporters to torpedo the case. He said that there was enough ground to suspect that the supporters of the bishop may have hired Pujari to meet their ends.
“The nuns and their supporters are poor and respectable people. We have no money or connections with criminal gangs to hire a gangster like Pujari. On the contrary, the bishop and their supporters have no dearth of money or connections,” he said pointing out that the nuns were offered Rs 5 crores and 10 acres of land in Kerala to withdraw the case.
Agreeing with Joseph (from KCRM), senior lawyer MS Saji said that the bishop and his supporters have been trying all tactics to put the nuns under pressure. The present attempt could be to create confusion and earn sympathy for the bishop.
Saji also slammed former SP George for commenting about the merit of the case which is under sub-judice. “I have high respect for (former SP) Joseph. (But) he has forgotten the ethics in his attempt to defend the bishop blindly as a devout Catholic,” Saji said.
Saji said that those backing the nuns are respectable people in the society and they have been fighting for a just cause. “Bracketing them with criminal gangs is very sad. It was least expected from a person who held a high position in the police,” he added.
Vaikom DSP K Subhash, also the investigating officer in the case, said that the police had not come across any external agency supporting the nuns in their investigations so far.
“If the MLA has any complaint about any external agency trying to trap the bishop, we will investigate it. As of now, we have a clear case of rape against the bishop. Those who are claiming that the bishop was trapped by the nuns will get enough opportunity to prove their point when the case goes for trial,” he said.
The police officer said that the charge sheet in the case was ready and they were awaiting the approval of the prosecutor for filing it in the court. He said that they are hopeful of filing the charge sheet within a month.
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