Kerala nun rape case: Victim's brother alleges nexus between church, government; protests continue

Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been accused of raping the Kerala-based nun.

Kerala nun rape case: Victim's brother alleges nexus between church, government; protests continue

KOCHI: The brother of the Kerala nun, who has been allegedly raped by Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, has accused the state authorities of not arresting the accused due to pressure from the Catholic Church in the southern state.

Alleging a nexus between the authorities and the church, he said, ''The Kerala government is not taking any action as they do not want to break the cordiality between the church and the authorities as elections are approaching.''

He further alleged that despite the massive public outcry, the state police have not done anything in the past 78 days. 

''Influential politicians are supporting him (accused),'' he alleged.

Meanwhile, protests continued in Kerala over the shocking rape of the nun with hundreds voicing support for the victim.

A group of nuns seeking action against the bishop accused of rape warned that they would continue their six-day-old protest till justice was done.

They said their agitation was not against the Church or its rules, but a cry, seeking justice for their victimised fellow nun.

The nuns said they would not have come out in the open had the Church authorities delivered justice.

The protest by various Catholic reformist organisations in Kochi, seeking justice to the victim, entered the sixth day on Thursday.

Many women leaders, including eminent writer Sara Joseph and social activist K Ajitha visited the agitators, who include five fellow nuns of the victim. 

Social activist Stephen Mathews is also on a hunger strike for the past six days demanding the arrest of rape accused Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

In a related development, the Kerala High Court Thursday expressed satisfaction over the police investigation in the case.

The court stated this while considering three separate petitions, alleging that the police probe against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar diocese was 'ineffective'.

It asked them to have some patience as shown by the nun and said the petitions would be considered after the Bishop was interrogated by the Special Investigation Team probing the case on September 19.

The nun recently sought the urgent intervention of the Vatican for justice and demanded the Bishop's removal as the head of the Jalandhar diocese, questioning why the church was "closing its eyes to the truth" when she mustered the courage to make public her sufferings.

In a scathing letter to the Vatican that was made available to the media Tuesday, the nun also asked will the Church be able to give back what she has lost. She alleged that Bishop Franco Mulakkal was using "political and money power" to bury the case against him.

She had accused the clergyman of sexually assaulting her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016.

The Bishop had, however, dismissed the allegations as "baseless and concocted", insisting she levelled those as the Catholic order had rejected her demand for favours.

His counsel said, ''We have not got any summons yet. When we get then will see what to do. The Bishop is being framed. What if tomorrow its proved that bishop is innocent, then who will be held responsible for his character assassination?.''

But, the Kerala Catholic Bishop Council (KCBC) had slammed the nuns' protest, saying that it has "crossed all limits".

"We are not against the Church. We are not against the Church rules. We still accept the sacraments and we are not against it. We will continue our protest till we get justice," a nun told reporters in Kochi.

The KCBC had in a statement on Wednesday slammed the nuns' protest, saying that it has "crossed all limits".

It also noted that both the complainant nun and accused Bishop were members of Catholic family and the church shared their "wounds and agony".

The KCBC had said the allegations levelled against the Bishop was 'serious', adding that whoever the accused may be, they should be punished if the charges were proved.

"This is the firm stand of the Church," it said.

KCBC had also alleged attempts by vested interests and a section of the media to tarnish the church and the bishop community as a whole under the cover of the protesting nuns and said this was not "acceptable".

Police should not succumb to any kind of pressure and complete the probe impartially at the earliest, Varghese Vallikkat, deputy secretary general and official spokesperson of KCBC, had said in a press release.

In Kottayam, district police chief Hari Sankar said on Wednesday there were contradictions in the statements given by the victim, witnesses and the accused and the investigation team probing the case would reach a conclusion before accused Bishop appears before it on September 19.