The Kerala Police arrested Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is accused of raping a nun, at 8 pm on Friday after questioning him for three days, PTI reported.
The investigation team has collected enough evidence that points that Mulakkal had committed the rape, according to The New Indian Express.
“Investigation is going in the right direction,” PTI quoted senior Kerala Minister EP Jayarajan as saying in Thiruvananthapuram. “The government is with the victim [and] the nuns staging the protest. Certainly the government will take all necessary steps to identify the culprits and bring the guilty to book.”
The arrest came a day after the Vatican accepted Mulakkal’s request to temporarily relieve him of administrative duties at the Jalandhar Diocese.
In June, the police filed charges against Mulakkal after a nun in the Missionaries of Jesus congregation filed a complaint accusing him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 in Kottayam. The congregation is based in Punjab’s Jalandhar district but it runs two convents in Kerala – one in Kottayam and the other in Kannur. The alleged abuse took place in Kottayam.
Mulakkal has denied the charges and accused the nun of taking revenge on him for ordering an inquiry into a complaint against her. He filed a complaint against the complainant and five other nuns, accusing them of framing him. The Kerala High Court has deferred hearing Mulakkal’s anticipatory bail plea to September 25.
The Missionaries of Jesus has said its internal investigation found Mulakkal to be innocent. The organisation has also accused the nun of being in a relationship with a taxi driver. The bishop, too, claims that there are “several contradictions” in the evidence collected by the police.
A group of nuns has been protesting against the alleged delay in police action against the bishop.
Corrections and clarifications: The Kerala Police registered Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s arrest at 8 pm and not 6 pm, when the story was published.