The Kerala Police on Wednesday asked Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is accused by a nun of raping her, to appear before it on September 19, Inspector General Vijay Sakhare said, according to PTI.
Earlier in the day, top police officials in Kerala met in Kochi to review the progress in the investigation in the allegations against the bishop of Jalandhar diocese in Punjab. The complainant belongs to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation, which is based in Jalandhar and runs two convents in Kerala. The alleged abuse took place in one of the convents in Kerala.
Kottayam District Superintendent of Police Harisankar, Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash, who is heading the special investigation team, and other officials attended the review meeting chaired by Inspector General (Ernakulam Range) Vijay Sakhare.
Harisankar told reporters that the meeting was held to finalise an affidavit to be filed in the Kerala High Court on Thursday. On Monday, the Kerala High Court asked the state government to inform it of the steps taken by the special investigation team.
“I inadvertently used a term against the victim,” said the MLA from Poonjar in Kottayam district. “Such a term should never be used against a woman. It was an emotional outburst.”
He, however, did not apologise and stood by the rest of his statement. “Other than retracting the word prostitute, I stand by everything else I have said on the topic,” The News Minute quoted George as saying. “I stand by it a 100%.”
His statement came two days after the National Commission for Women summoned him on September 20.
Meanwhile, Auxiliary Bishop of Changanassery archdiocese Thomas Tharayi questioned the media trial of Franco Mulakkal in the case. Tharayil said a person should be considered innocent till his crime is proved in court. “If an accused is a priest or a Catholic bishop, he will be treated as a guilty till his innocence is proved,” he added.
Tharayi’s comments came a day after the Missionaries of Jesus continued to defend Mulakkal. The congregation alleged that the complainant had a “relationship beyond acceptable standards with a local taxi driver” and said the allegations against Mulakkal were false.
Protest enters fifth day
The protest by a group of five nuns in Kochi calling for Mulakkal’s arrest entered the fifth day on Wednesday. The nuns launched their sit-in protest on September 8 after Catholic Church officials allegedly failed to act against the bishop.
During the day, minister EP Jayarajan said the government was with the complainant. “We will take right decision at the right time,” ANI quoted the minister as saying. “Police will book culprits with the support of evidence. Investigation is on the right path. No one should try to outrage modesty of a woman.”
Communist Party of India (Marxist) Politburo member S Ramachandran Pillai said the government and the party would not protect any guilty person, ANI reported. “On the basis of law, the government and agencies are doing their investigations,” he added. “They will arrive at appropriate conclusion and the government will act on that.”
On Tuesday, the protesting nuns said they have lost faith in the Vatican and are looking to the judicial system for redress. The complainant released a a seven-page letter claiming that she had written to the representative of the Vatican in India and Pope Francis, seeking action against Mulakkal, but received no reply.