Indian nuns demand arrest of bishop accused of rape

Earlier in the day, top police officials in Kerala met in Kochi to review the progress in the investigation in the allegations against the bishop of Jalandhar diocese.

The meeting by the police officials came after the Kerala High Court, on Monday, directed the state government to inform it of the steps taken by the special investigation team probing the case of alleged rape of the nun by the Bishop. "We feel that it was the Church which forced us onto the streets", Sister Anupama of the Missionaries of Jesus, one of the protesters, told the Times of India Sept. 8.

The Roman Catholic Bishop has been asked to appear before the police on September 19, Inspector General of police Vijay Sakhare said. It was also observed there that Court can not compel investigating officer to arrest an accused, as it was a matter within the discretion of police. The 13th time it became rape.

Meanwhile, Auxiliary Bishop of Changanassery archdiocese Thomas Tharayi questioned the media trial of Franco Mulakkal in the case.

Five nuns joined street protests at the weekend organised by Catholic reform groups claiming the police were dragging their heels in the case. That is why we thought of conducting this protest.

A second nun, Sister Anapurna, told local paper the Indian Express, that Bishop Franco has "political clout" in Kerala. Slamming the public outcry over the alleged delay in action against Jalandhar Bishop, Auxilary Bishop of Changanassery Archdiocese, Thomas Tharayil sought to know whether declaring a person guilty without an investigation and trial was also a new Kerala model.

The Missionaries of Jesus' statement said the protesting nuns of the congregation do not belong to the Kuravilangad convent, and are protesting with the help of external forces: "This is evident from the various banners that are seen at the protest tents". If there is any truth in the allegations by the nun, then she should also receive justice from the legal system. "I feel there are people who are against the Church".

"We need more evidence to incriminate Bishop Mulakkal beyond any doubts", said District Police Chief Hari Sankar last week. The nuns and their families are facing mental trauma and continuous pressure from the church, but they are keen to fight for their fellow sister. Police have questioned him on August 13 but failed to arrest him and to any further probe in the matter.

He added that no other nun had filed evidence against the bishop and that there was not of yet any scientific evidence to substantiate the rape charges.

Vanessa Coleman

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