The Missionaries of Jesus convent in Jalandhar told the Kerala Police that they do not have the “financial capacity” to protect the nun who accused former Bishop Franco Mulakkal of rape, The News Minute reported on Friday. On October 27, the Kuruvilangad police had asked the convent to take certain security measures to protect the complainant and some of her colleagues, who are witnesses in the case.

In her letter, Mother Superior General Regina had purportedly suggested that the police relocate the complainant and the witnesses to a government-run facility “if you think there is a threat to the complainant and the other nuns”.

The congregation head was quoted as saying, “Some of the security measures listed in the letter will also affect the day-to-day working of the mission home, the privacy as well as safety of the nuns and other residents of the home.”

On November 21, the Kuruvilangad Police had asked the complainant to reply to the congregation’s suggestion.

One of the witnesses, nun Anupama, claimed that the Catholic congregation was lying about it’s financial capability as it had recently paid for the airfares of 14 nuns to “campaign for Bishop Franco”. Anupama also said that the congregation was paying a battery of lawyers to defend him.

The witness expressed anxiety about eating at the convent. “We feel a bit scared to eat from the convent,” she said. “The list of security measures were sent after consulting us and inspecting the convent.”

Anupama added that the complainant and her colleagues will not relocate. “It is their responsibility to provide us with security,” the witness said. “We did not work for the government all this time, we worked for the church. Why would we move to any government home?”

Security measures requested

The police had asked the congregation to install closed-circuit television cameras at the entry and exit gates, street lights from the main road leading up to the convent, grills over wells, and light fixtures on the terrace. In his letter, the Kuruvilangad sub-inspector had also directed the convent to give a spare door key to the complainant, maintain a registry with information about the residents and to have a separate cook for the six nuns.

The police had cited the death of one of the witnesses in the case, Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, as an added factor to increase security immediately.

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