While the statement of facts submitted by the Kerala police had identified Bishop Franco as the offender in raping a Nun in August itself; they deliberately delayed the summons which was sent only after the spark of protests
Despite stiff protest, even from within the Christian society LDF regime led by CPM veteran Pinarayi Vijayan still dilly-dallies regarding the arrest of Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal. Bishop is still shameless and sticks on to his stand that the nun is not true. Nun (44) accuses, Franco, raped her 13 times. But, Franco said, he has not done anything wrong to her even once. Nun says she had to undergo the sexual abuse 13 times because; she was scared of the grave consequences if she had resisted. At last, she complained to the police authorities about the shameful torture she had to undergo. But, police dragged its feet.
At last, they interrogated the nun several times. A team of police went to Jalandhar and came back home after a ‘chat’ with Franco Mulakkal! It is a month since the investigation officers of Kerala Nun Rape Case filed an affidavit in the Kerala High Court which made it clear that they (the officers) had found evidence against Jalandhar Bishop. The affidavit is reported to have said that officials had questioned several people to conclude. A lookout notice was issued for Franco Mulakkal to make sure that he does not flee the country. But Bishop is still with all feathers intact.
Findings of Investigation
The affidavit submitted before the Kerala High Court on August 13, 2018 says, “During the course of the investigation so far conducted and the available evidence collected so far, it is revealed that the accused Bishop Franco committed unnatural offence and committed rape repeatedly on different dates from May 5, 2014 to September 23, 2016 on the complainant against the will and consent of her abusing his dominance over her as Bishop of Jalandhar after confining her in the guest room number 20 of St. Francis Bishop Home in Kuruvilangadu”. (Note: The place is in Kottayam district, Kerala).
The officer explains in the affidavit how he conducted the probe. He also lists out all the people that he has questioned. It includes the victim nun, the Bishop of Pala and priest of Kuruvilangad church, a nun who left Missionaries of Jesus and mothers of four nuns who had left the congregation. Cardinal Mar George Alencherry was interrogated too.
(Malayalam channels had telecast the voice clipping of the telephone conversation between the victim and Cardinal in which the latter admitted the receipt of the complaint she filed). Investigations were conducted in North Bharat, and several witnesses were interrogated in Delhi and Ujjain. The affidavit suggests the visitor’s register at the mission home where the crimes are alleged to have taken place correlates with the dates pointed out by the complainant.
The affidavit refers to the 164 CrPC statement of the victim to arrive on the conclusion. On September 8, the nun wrote a seven-page letter to the Nuncio, the Vatican Ambassador, detailing her experience, that is, no help from anyone despite approaching several “who is who’s” in the Church hierarchy. But, the Church tried and still tries to ignore the allegations. ‘Missionaries of Jesus’ has accused the survivor nun of making up the records of Bishop Franco’s visit in St. Francis’ visitors register where she was the Mother Superior.
On top of that, the Missionaries of Jesus released a statement to the media on September 11 questioning the nun's character. They alleged that she had previously been involved with two others and that her allegations against the bishop were unwarranted.
Summons sent to the Bishop
At last Kerala Police has sent summons to Bishop to appear before the investigation team on September 19. The decision was taken after a high-level meeting of the police brass on September 12 in Kochi.
But, the people, the observers and the nuns are not so optimistic about this step. They believe that he is nothing but an eyewash to kill the anti-government mood taking place in the state.
The Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC) has issued a circular signed by Sr Suby, the Superior General of the congregation, asking the nuns not to participate in the protest against the Bishop. It is given the protests being carried out in Kochi in a public place in support of the victim. Several luminaries from different walks of the life throng the pandal and declare their support to the victim. They criticise the CPM-led LDF regime for its lackadaisical attitude and cold feet concerning the action against the Bishop. Justice (Retd Kerala HC) Kamal Pasha, BMS national president Adv. Saji Narayanan, BMS state organising secretary CV Rajesh, Hindu Aikya Vedi general secretary RV Babu, BMS leader Adv Sindhumol, BJP leader Adv Shaleena and several other prominent persons visited the nuns and expressed their solidarity. All leaders and the writers criticised the LDF ruling apparatus for its lack of enthusiasm in booking the culprit. Nuns of the Kuruvilangad monastery are participating in the dharna every day.
Double Standards of Communists
Observers cite the double standards CPM and LDF have been following in these sorts of cases. When an allegation came against a Congress MLA last year, he was immediately arrested based on the statement of a woman. But, when a female DYFI leader complained to CPM state leadership as well as central leadership against CPM MLA PK Sasi in her district, the party says, they will conduct party level enquiry. They are not ready to refer the complaint to the police.
BJP state president Adv PS Sreedharan Pillai told a press conference that further delay in taking legal actions against Franco would create more loopholes to enable him to escape. He said, in Kerala, the CPM-Congress nexus rings the death bell of law and order. The constitution and maintenance of law and order are twisted and misinterpreted according to the whims and fancies of both LDF and Congress-UDF.
The victim’s statement is enough for taking action against the accused. Still, Franco is untouched. The victim has stated before the court as per 164 CrPC. Still, the actions are delayed purposely. The goal is obvious: Give opportunity to the Bishop to escape from legal actions. Kerala Police, CPM and the government are to blame in this case. Pillai demanded immediate arrest of the Bishop. He should undergo the medical test for the sexual capacity. Seventy-five days are over since the victim gave the statement. Still, CRPC and IPC are ignored. BJP leader referred to his press conference on August 14 in this matter. He wondered if the accused helps CPM and Congress generously. It looks like he is powerful to boss both mainstream parties.
Now, Joint Christian Council has joined the dharna of the nuns. Prominent Christian leaders are participating. Interestingly, Synod of Bishops takes place in the Vatican from October 3 to 28. There are reports that Franco is trying to get the lookout circular, meant for stopping his foreign trips, cancelled. He uses his political clout for this.
The nuns told at the dharna pandal that they are afraid of the fate of Sisters Abhya and Amala and about 18 others to happen to them. It is to be noted that not a single culprit has been punished for any of the above murder cases. The latest victim’s brother has told the media about the attempts made by Franco to lure the family for the withdrawal of the complaint.
Day by day more and more prominent persons are visiting the dharna pandal and offer their support to the victim and her friends. Congress leader V.M. Sudheeran addressed a similar dharna in Thiruvananthapuram. He asked Franco to step down from the position. BJP’s P.P. Mukundan and Dr Sister Jesmy, who left the Church a few years back after raising allegations against the top brass including sexual abuse, spoke on occasion.
In the meantime, PC George, an independent MLA and former Kerala Congress leader, uttered derogatory remarks against the victim nun. He said she is a prostitute hence did not complain even after 13 alleged rapes she underwent. But he faced severe criticism from the society and threat of even legal action. At last, he apologised.