The Missionaries of Jesus on Monday criticised five Kerala nuns who are protesting against the delay by the police in taking action against Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused of rape by a nun, ANI reported. Both the complainant and the protesting nuns belong to the Missionaries of Jesus.

The five nuns, who started an indefinite protest on Saturday along with some activists, alleged that the police and church officials had denied them justice and there has not been much action though the complaint was filed more than 70 days ago.

“Our conscience doesn’t allow us to crucify an innocent soul [Jalandhar Bishop] based on sexual abuse allegations by a nun,” the congregation said in a statement. “We suspect nuns have been forced into protest by external influence.”

The complainant has accused Mulakkal of raping her several times between 2014 and 2016. The Missionaries of Jesus is a congregation in Punjab’s Jalandhar, but it runs two convents in Kerala – one in Kottayam and the other in Kannur. The alleged abuse took place in Kottayam.

The Missionaries of Jesus also called the allegations against Mulakkal baseless, News18 reported. “During the time the nun alleged that she was raped, we could see that she was coordinating the bishop’s programmes in Kerala. She alleged that she was raped on May 5, 2014, but even after that the bishop participated in functions at her house on her invitation,” the statement added.

One of the protesting nuns told News18 that top police officials were not allowing the deputy superintendent of police to carry out a free a fair investigation. The police are expected to summon Mulakkal for questioning this week, PTI reported.

The congregation’s statement came on a day the Kerala High Court directed the state government to inform it about the steps taken by the special investigation team conducting inquiries in the matter, PTI reported. A division bench also sought to know the steps the government has taken to ensure the safety and security of the complainant and protesting nuns. The court posted the matter for hearing on Thursday.

The state Minority Rights Commission has also registered a case against the police in the case, and has asked Kerala Director General of Police Loknath Behera and Inspector General (Kochi Range) Vijay S Sakhare to file a report at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women has summoned Kerala MLA PC George on September 20 for calling the complainant a prostitute, PTI reported.