Kerala nuns threaten protest over delay in case against Jalandhar bishop Franco Mullakkal
Five nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation, who led a protest against deposed Jalandhar bishop Franco Mullakkal, alleged a deliberate attempt to delay justice in the sexual assault case against him and threatened to take to the streets again.
Three months after the bishop’s arrest, police are yet to file a chargesheet in the case. The state government is also yet to appoint a public prosecutor, they said.
“Things are moving at a snail’s pace. We heard the decision to appoint a public prosecutor is pending with the Kerala chief minister’s office. We fear a deliberate attempt to weaken the case. If the situation continues like this, we will be forced to hit the streets again,” said sister Anupama, who led the protest against Mullakkal.
In June 2018, a 43-year-old nun, also a mother superior, had lodged a police complaint that Mullakkal had raped her 13 times between 2014 and 2016.
The five nuns staged a protest in Kochi seeking his arrest. The special investigation team arrested him in September after several rounds of questioning. After three weeks in judicial custody, Mullakkal was granted bail. “We are leading a secluded life at the convent. We have been kept in the dark about church duties and decisions. A couple of nuns have been transferred from Punjab to our convent to keep a tab on us. There were attempts to force us out of the convent,” she said.
“The deposed bishop is influential and it is evident in every stage of the case. Though we face threat to our lives, we will continue our struggle for justice,” she said.
Earlier, the convent had sent a letter to the police, saying it did not have funds to continue protection to the victim and five other nuns and they can be shifted to a government-run home.
It was seen as a move to push them out of the convent and silence them. But the nuns insisted they will remain with the congregation and won’t move out.
A key witness in the case, father Kuriakose Kattuthara, was found dead in Jalandhar under mysterious circumstances two months ago.
A section of the inmates of the convent is said to be supporting the bishop.