Rape summons for bishop

Kerala police have summoned Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal to appear next week before the investigating officer probing a nun's allegation of rape against the clergyman as pressure mounted on the cops to act fast in the case.

By Our Special Correspondent in Bangalore
  • Published 13.09.18
  •  
Franco Mulakkal

Bangalore: Kerala police have summoned Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal to appear next week before the investigating officer probing a nun's allegation of rape against the clergyman as pressure mounted on the cops to act fast in the case.

Inspector-general Vijay Sakre told reporters in Kochi on Wednesday a notice had been sent to the bishop, who belongs to the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church.

Sakre said Mulakkal has been told to appear before the police on September 19, following a five-hour meeting that started around 11am to decide the department's future course of action.

The nun, who comes from a convent in Kuravilangad in Kerala's Kottayam district and belongs to the same church as the bishop, has accused Mulakkal of sexually assaulting her 13 times over a period of time.

On Tuesday she wrote to the Pope's representative in Delhi accusing the church authorities of ignoring her repeated pleas to take action against the bishop.

Sakre defended the delay in arresting the bishop even a month after the police had made a submission to Kerala High Court about the evidence available in the case.

"The investigation has a lot of contradictions. Unless we iron out those contradictions, we will not be in a position to charge. So if we do not investigate properly and iron out the contradictions, it will benefit the accused person," he said.

Some nuns who have been on a sit-in protest in Kochi since Saturday demanding the bishop's arrest had recently said they had lost faith in Sakre and the state's police chief, Loknath Behera.

Asked about their protest, Sakre said: "I work for the Government of India, all of us work for the Constitution of India and it is our duty to protect the victim. And this is what we are doing."

The Kerala Region Latin Catholic Council on Wednesday said Mulakkal's continuance as bishop had become untenable.

Council vice-president Shaji George in a statement said Mulakkal would have earned some respect if he had stepped down on his own.

The council also refused to accept the bishop's counter-charge that the accusation against him was actually targeted at the church. "This is a personal allegation on him," George said.

"The morality and sense of justice that he should have upheld as the Bishop has come under scrutiny. The believers expect moral justice from higher authorities when they face such accusations," he said.

Independent MLA P.C. George withdrew his derogatory remarks against the nun just when the police were gearing up to book him. George had called the nun a "prostitute", saying as she had reported the alleged sexual assault only after it happened for the 13th time.

"I had used a word, which shouldn't be used against any woman. It was an emotional outburst and I feel sad about it," George said but refused to apologise to the nun.

"There is no need to apologise to the nun. Why should I apologise to a woman like this? I could have apologised if she was a good woman," he told reporters on Wednesday, basically sticking to what he had said earlier without using the word.