Nation

Bishop arrested in nun rape case

September 22, 2018 07:43 AM

After an inquiry spanning 87 days and interrogation by the Kerala Police for three consecutive days, Bishop Franco Mulakkal was today arrested in the alleged rape case lodged by a nun. The Pope had yesterday relieved him of the pastoral duties of Jalandhar Diocese.

The Bishop was being interrogated at the Crime Branch office in Tripunithura, Kerala, for the past three days. His flip-flop and contradictory statements led to his arrest. The Kottayam police took a fresh statement from the nun today.

This is the first time that a Bishop has been interrogated and arrested in the country. The arrest came in the evening amidst daylong confusion, with officials confirming the same to the media but not going on record.

The nun has served as Mother General with Jesus of Missionaries in Jalandhar but moved to Kerala five years ago. She alleged rape by the Bishop several times at the Kuravilangad convent in Kottayam, Kerala, between 2014 and 2016.

Last week, she had written to Pope Francis sharing her plight and alleging that the silence by the church was leading to humiliation and character assassination.

The nun, her family and a few other nuns had remained firm on their stand despite attempts to malign them. Sister Anupama, who remained steadfast in her support, even brought out audio recordings to buttress her claim, including the fact that they were being bribed to withdraw the case. The nuns had been mounting pressure on the Kerala Police by holding a protest for the past 14 days.

It was the Bishop’s own move to lodge a complaint with the Kerala Police against the nun and her family alleging death threat that did him in. The rape FIR lodged against him was a counter-complaint by the nun three days later, on June 28.

Confident of steering his way out of trouble, the Bishop had hired top lawyers, and had alleged that the nun had relations with her brother-in-law (cousin’s husband) and that the nun’s charges against him were in retaliation to the inquiry ordered by him.

After being interrogated in Jalandhar on August 14-15 and summoned by the Kerala Police on September 19, the Bishop had sought permission from the Pope to relieve him of his pastoral duties. Before appearing in Kerala, the Bishop had filed an anticipatory bail plea in the High Court, which was to be taken up on September 25. With his arrest, the application has got infructuous.

His Jalandhar-based lawyer Mandeep S Sachdev said: “We will file for regular bail with the Sessions Court in Kottayam.”

After the arrest, members of the Punjab Christian Movement distributed sweets outside the Bishop House in Jalandhar.

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