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Nun rape case: Kerala cops to question Jalandhar bishop today

Faith in crisis as Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar bishop Mulakkal accused of sexually assaulting nun 13 times.

punjab Updated: Aug 11, 2018 13:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
Nun rape,Rape case Jalandhar,bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar
(Representative Image)

Over a month after Franco Mulakkal, 54, the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, was booked for sexually abusing a 43-year-old nun for two years, a Kerala Police team arrived on Friday to question him.

The case was registered against the bishop on June 29 after the nun lodged a complaint that Mulakkal had sexually abused her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. She alleged that she was assaulted at different locations, including Jalandhar and Kottayam.

During its three-day investigation in Jalandhar, the Kerala Police team will record the statements of three nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus Congregation in Jalandhar, where the complainant was posted as mother general till 2013. At present, the three nuns are posted in Ludhiana, Gurdaspur and Jalandhar cantonment churches.

Testing times

Father Peter Kavumpuram, the public relations officer of the Jalandhar diocese, said, “We have information from the Jalandhar police that a team from Kerala is intown but it has yet to contact us.”

Jalandhar deputy commissioner of police (investigation) Gurmeet Singh said the six-member Kerala police team, led by Vaikom DSP K Subhash, will record the bishop’s statement on Saturday.

On hearing that Kerala police personnel were in town to question Mulakkal, nearly 150 followers gathered at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church to pray for him. The church announced a holiday on Saturday for employees working in the bishop’s house.

The diocese comprises the districts of Amritsar, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Moga, Muktsar, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar and Tarn Taran in Punjab, and Chamba, Hamirpur, Kangra and Una in Himachal Pradesh. It has 1.12 lakh Catholic followers and was part of the diocese of Lahore until the Partition in 1947.

Counter charge

Mulakkal refuted the nun’s charges, saying she was targeting him for initiating a probe against her for her involvement in an illicit relationship. “The nun was posted as mother general at the Missionaries of Jesus Congregation in Jalandhar for nine years till 2013 before I came to Jalandhar. She lost the elections that year and a new nun was appointed and she left for Kerala,” he said.

“In 2016, a woman from Kerala came to Jalandhar and gave a written complaint to the mother general of the Missionaries of Jesus Congregation that the nun was having an illicit relationship with her husband,” Mulakkal said.

The nun is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab which runs two convents in Kerala. She was heading one of the convents at Kuravilanagad in Kottayam.

In a four-hour recording before the Thriruvalla first class judicial magistrate in Kottayam districton July 5, the nun reiterated her charges against the bishop and said she has enough evidence to prove the assaults. The investigating team had moved an application in the court to record her statement under Section 164 of the CrPC. A police official said her statement was recorded before the court to avoid retraction at a later stage. He said the arrest of the bishop was imminent.

A section of the church made last-ditch efforts to placate the nun but she insisted she will go ahead with the case. “We are under pressure to withdraw the case but we will not budge. There should be an end to such unhealthy practices,” the nun’s brother said, adding the family will stand by her.

In her complaint she alleged the bishop raped her in the convent. After checking the visitors’ diary, the investigating team found that the bishop was at the convent on thedays on which the alleged rapes took place. The bishop pleaded innocence, saying he was beingimplicated for unearthing financial irregularities at the convent.

First Published: Aug 11, 2018 13:50 IST