Bishop arrest delayed: support for nuns' protest grows

Bishop arrest delayed: support for nuns' protest grows

Nuns protest against the delay in action against the Roman Catholic Church Bishop, who is accused of sexually exploiting a nun, in Kochi on Saturday. PTI

Support increased for five nuns demanding the arrest of Franco Mulakkal, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, in connection with the alleged rape of a nun, as their protest entered its second day on Sunday.

Along with the public, priests from different churches expressed solidarity with the protesters brought together by the Joint Christian Council in Kochi while the police, under fire over a delay in the arrest, expanded the investigating team.

The nun had, in a petition filed with police in Kuravilangad in Kottayam district on June 27, alleged that the 54-year-old bishop raped her multiple times over two years since 2014, at a convent guest house in Kottayam.

Former high court judge B Kemal Pasha who visited the protest venue on Sunday launched a scathing attack on the police. He said the delay in the arrest was “shameful” for a government that came to power with women’s security as one of its key priorities.

“The bishop has not even approached courts for an anticipatory bail. He knows there won’t be any action,” he said.

The presence of Fr Paul Thelakkat, former spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church, and priests from other churches at the protest venue signalled rising opposition against police inaction.

In August, the investigating team led by Vaikom DySP K Subash had questioned the Bishop in Jalandhar but there has been no headway in making the arrest. Senior officials have also stated that there was no conclusive evidence, yet, for the police to make the arrest.

Alleged attempts to influence progress in the case were also reported. Fr James Erthayil, a priest attached to the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, called a nun, a supporter of the complainant, and made offers of land and other benefits in exchange of withdrawal of the complaint. After the voice record of their conversation was made public, the priest was removed from his position in a church facility in Kurianad, in Kottayam.

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