The Catholic Church has ordered four of the five nuns who participated in protests against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar diocese last year to leave their convent in Kerala, The News Minute reported on Wednesday.

Sister Alphy Pallasseril, Sister Anupama Kelamangalathuveliyil, Sister Josephine Villoonnickal, and Sister Ancitta Urumbil have been asked to leave the Kuravilangad convent and return to the convents previously assigned to them by the Missionaries of Jesus. Sister Nina Rose – the fifth nun who also took part in the protests – has not been transerred.

In a letter dated January 3, Superior General Regina Kadamthottu directed the four nuns to immediately leave the convent in Kerala. “You have chosen in your individual capacity to support and pursue the legal battle seeking justice,” read the letter. “The MJ Congregation and its members do not intend to make any sort of intervention or interference into the due process of law and justice and you will be free to carry on the judicial pursuit.”

Sister Anupama has been asked to relocate to Chamiyari community in Punjab, where she was transferred in March, and Sister Ancitta has been asked to go back to the Pariyaram community in Kannur. She was shifted there in May.

Sister Alphy was appointed as the Mother Superior in Bihar’s Pakartala in May 2017 and she has been asked to rejoin the community there. Sister Josephine, who was appointed as Superior at Jharkhand’s Lalmatia community in May 2017, has been accused of “abandoning the community” and ordered to return.

In June, the police filed charges against Mulakkal after a nun from the Missionaries of Jesus congregation accused him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 at a convent in Kottayam. The police arrested Mulakkal on September 21 after three days of questioning. On October 15, the Kerala High Court granted him conditional bail, and he was released the following day. Mulakkal, who returned to Jalandhar on October 17, has denied all charges.

But the four nuns said they would not follow the orders, The Times Of India reported. “This is like a disciplinary action against us,” said Sister Anupama, adding they were preparing a reply to the letter. “This is a play to torpedo the case and isolate the victim.”

In November, Sister Anupama was heckled and asked to leave the funeral of priest Kuriakose Kattuthara, who had deposed against Mulakkal in the case and supported the nuns’ protests. Kattuthara was found dead in October.