Kerala Police on Wednesday issued summons to Jalandhar-based bishop Franco Mulakkal to appear for another round of questioning on September 19 in a case of rape against him and said that a decision on whether to arrest the priest will be taken post-questioning. A nun from the Missionaries of Jesus has alleged that Mulakkal had sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions over two years since May 2014, when he was in Kerala.
Mulakkal has accused the nun of lying and making up the case “because I had ordered action against her”. After a review meeting on Wednesday, Inspector General (Kochi range) Vijay Sakhare said a notice has been issued to the bishop to appear before the investigating officer — Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash, who is probing the case.
I-G Sakhare said, “The decision on whether to arrest him would be taken after questioning. There are lot of discrepancies in the statements of the bishop and other witnesses, including the complainant. The contradictions have to be cleared.” Sakhare said the police will submit a fresh affidavit in High Court on Thursday detailing the probe conducted so far. The High Court had, on Monday, sought an action-taken report.
Also read | All that’s happened in the rape case so far
Investigating officer Subhash, who had earlier stated in an affidavit submitted in court that Mulakkal had raped and committed unnatural sex on the nun, on Wednesday said after the police’s review meeting, “I had given statement to court on August 10 that the bishop had committed rape. I questioned the bishop in Jalandhar on August 13 (and) we realised the contradictions only after that. Now we have decided to clear the contradictions in the bishop’s statements.”
Meanwhile, on the fifth day of the protest by five nuns from the same congregation as the victim, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) on Wednesday said that the police should complete the probe at the earliest without succumbing to pressure and denounced the nuns’ protest. The KCBC said it does not agree with the agitation since it is aimed at tarnishing the image of the entire Church, and all bishops. It said the council shares the sentiments of both the complainant and the accused but there should be no “parallel trial” when the police probe is on.
The protest by the nuns, being staged at the High Court junction, has been gaining public support over the last five days. Women in Cinema Collective, a women-only association in Malayalam film industry, extended support to the nuns. Film professionals Major Ravi, Ashiq Abu and Shahabas Aman also met the protesters. In Kozhikode, film actor Joy Mathew led a march extending support to the nuns.
In Thiruvananthapuram, senior Congress leader V M Sudheeran accused the CPI(M)-led LDF government of delaying action against the bishop.
Meanwhile, Independent Kerala MLA P C George on Wednesday tendered public apology for having used humiliating word against the complainant nun. George told the media that he is withdrawing the word he used against the nun but stuck to the allegations he had raised against her. The nun, he said, should quit the order.