Kerala nuns say protests will intensify if Jalandhar Bishop accused of rape is not arrested

Updated on Sep 17, 2018 11:01 AM IST

The nuns have been on a dharna in Kochi for the last ten days seeking action against the bishop while other activists are on a relay hunger strike in the nuns’ support.

Nuns hold placards during a protest demanding justice after an alleged sexual assault of a nun by a bishop in Kochi, Kerala.(Vivek Nair/HT Photo)
Nuns hold placards during a protest demanding justice after an alleged sexual assault of a nun by a bishop in Kochi, Kerala.(Vivek Nair/HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram | ByRamesh Babu KC

Catholic nuns in Kerala have decided to intensify their agitation unless Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mullakkal who is accused of raping a nun is arrested immediately.

The Bishop is to appear before the Kerala police for questioning on Wednesday.

The nuns have been on a dharna in Kochi for the last 10 days seeking action against the bishop while other activists are on a relay hunger strike in the nuns’ support. On Monday, the victim’s sister will join the relay hunger strike and many activists will stage dharnas in other district head quarters.

Professor MN Karassery, a Muslim reformer and writer will join a dharna in Kozhikode and Dr P Geetha, a rights activists will be among the protesters in Thrissur.

As support for their stir continued to pour in from different quarters including the laity, the nuns have decided to step up their agitation.

“We will continue our struggle till the bishop is arrested. It is a struggle for justice. Despite intense pressure and intimidation we will continue it till its logical end. Nobody heard our cries and we were forced to the streets by church authorities and police,” said Sister Anupama who is leading the stir.

Meanwhile, Father Augustine Vattolly, convener of the Save Our Sisters Action Council filed a complaint with the Kochi police commissioner on Sunday seeking immediate action against those in Missionaries of Charity congregation for releasing a photograph of the victim.

“It is shame they are using all means to intimidate the victim again. It is a punishable offence under Section 22A of the Indian Penal Code,” he said.

Last week, Kerala law-maker P C George had called the victim a “prostitute” and questioned her delay in filing a case against the Bishop.

The case hit the headlines after the 43-year-old nun belonging to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation alleged that the Bishop had sexually assaulted her after summoning her on the pretext of discussing an important issue in 2014 and continued to rape her for two more years. Last week she released a seven-page letter she had written to the Vatican Ambassador in India narrating how her plight was overlooked by church authorities who came down heavily on her for calling the accused a predator.

Bishop Mulakkal has denied all accusations and has claimed he has been implicated after he took some action against her. On Saturday, he appointed his deputy, vicar general Mathew Kokkandam, to administer the Jalandhar Diocese, a day after receiving summons from the Kerala police to join the investigation.

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