Kerala nuns protest after cop probing Franco Mulakkal case transferred
Nuns, who stood with the victim, said that they were victimised for turning against the powerful bishop. Five nuns were transferred and but Church authorities were forced to cancel it following intervention of courts and activists.
A month after the rape trial of former Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal kicked off, the police officer who investigated the charges was transferred on Wednesday, triggering allegations that the move was aimed at weakening the case.
A senior police officer who did not want to be identified, however, said Vaikkom deputy superintendent of police K Subash Kumar’s transfer was a routine affair and would not affect investigations. Last June, a 43-year-old Kerala nun had accused Mulakkal of raping her 13 times in a Kottayam convent between 2014 and 2016.
Kumar has been transferred to an insignificant post in Idukki district. The transfer has drawn flak from the rape survivor as well as nuns who have rallied around her since she lodged a police complaint against the bishop in June last year. They have alleged that the transfer was aimed at weakening the case against the once-powerful former bishop, citing earlier attempts to silence witnesses and sabotage investigations.
“The trial in the case began only last month [May 10] and we fear DySP K Subash Kumar’s transfer will affect the case. There have been many attempts to silence some witnesses. His transfer at this stage raises many doubts,” said Sister Anupama, one of the five nuns who sat on dharna last year in Kochi seeking action against the bishop.
The Save Our Sisters Forum (SOS), an outfit formed in the wake of nuns’ protest, also decried the move. “This will affect the smooth handling of the case. We will approach the government against this,” said a spokesman for the SOS, claiming there was much pressure on the officer who had investigated the case in a fair manner.
The case against Mullakkal began snowballing last year after the police failed to arrest him despite him being accused of rape. It was then that five fellow nuns of the complainant began a sit-in protest in Kochi, drawing national attention to the case.
Soon after, a special investigation team was formed, which arrested Mulakkal in September after several rounds of questioning. Subsequently, he was removed from the post of bishop. After spending three weeks in judicial custody, Mulakkal secured bail from the Kerala high court. On April May 10, the SIT submitted a 2000-page charge sheet against Mulakkal.