Will end stir only after bishop's arrest,say protesters

Will end stir only after bishop's arrest,say protesters

A woman consoles a nun during a protest demanding justice to an nun allegedly raped by a bishop, in Kochi on September 13, 2018. (Reuters File Pic)

Protesters staging an agitation in Kochi seeking justice for a Kottayam-based nun, allegedly raped by Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar Franco Mulakkal, said on Saturday the stir would be called off only after the bishop’s arrest.

The response came after Franco stepped down, temporarily, from his responsibilities as he prepares for a visit to Kerala where he is set to be questioned by the investigation team, on September 19.

“The protest will continue till the bishop is arrested,” Sr Anupama, one of the nuns attached to the Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) congregation, told reporters. The complainant, also a member of MJ, has alleged that Franco raped her multiple times between 2014 and 2016.

Sr Anupama said the bishop had not relinquished his position and only handed over responsibilities to Vicar-General Mathew Kokkandam, as was the “normal practice”.

Members of Save Our Sisters Action Council, a collective that backs the agitation seeking the bishop’s arrest, will file a plea before the police demanding action against MJ for releasing the photograph of the complainant along with a statement that dismissed the rape allegation, on Friday. The statement was released by Sr Amala, public relations officer of the congregation.

Fr Augustine Vattoli, the convener of the SOS action council, said the congregation’s move was part of ongoing efforts to derail the agitation by using money and power. “The release of the photograph is in clear violation of norms set by the Supreme Court. This is an attempt to weaken the victim and this protest,” he said.

The protest in Kochi entered its eighth day on Saturday. More people are set to join the agitation as it expands to district centres, during the next couple of days. A police team led by Vaikom DySP K Subhash will question the bishop, for the second time, on Wednesday.