Fifteen nuns from the Missionaries of Jesus congregation of Jalandhar met Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday and accused the state police of being biased against the rape-accused former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, PTI reported. The group expressed their solidarity with Mulakkal, who is accused of allegedly raping a nun from his congregation repeatedly over four years.

The group claimed that the former Jalandhar diocese bishop was arrested without evidence. “The bishop is a victim of a witch-hunt to tarnish the image of the Missionaries of Jesus,” the nuns claimed. They accused the investigation team of threatening those who supported him and barging into their convents without prior notice.

The Kerala High Court on Thursday heard the bishop’s bail plea and scheduled the order in the matter for October 3. On September 24, a magisterial court in Kerala sent Mulakkal to judicial custody until October 6. The police arrested Mulakkal, after three days of questioning, on September 21, over three months after the first charges were filed in the case.

The case

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 – in Kottayam and Kannur. The alleged abuse took place in Kottayam.

Mulakkal has repeatedly 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 bishop claimed that there were “several contradictions” in the evidence collected by the police.

The Missionaries of Jesus has said its internal investigation found Mulakkal to be innocent. The organisation has also attempted to malign the complainant repeatedly, and had once claimed that she was in a relationship with a taxi driver.