Amid mounting pressure on the police to initiate action against a Roman Catholic Bishop accused of raping a nun, a meeting was held Wednesday to review the progress made in the case even as a clergyman of an influential Kerala diocese slammed the public trial in the matter. 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 Ernakulam Range IG Vijay Sakhare in Kochi.
Before the meeting, being held amid allegations of attempts to sabotage the case, Subhash told reporters that a notice may be issued to Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese to appear before the investigating team. Harisankar, however, said the meeting was held to finalise the affidavit to be filed before the high court in this connection tomorrow.
On Monday, the Kerala High Court had directed the state government to inform it of the steps taken by the special investigation team probing the case of alleged rape of the nun by the Bishop. While considering a plea filed by George Joseph K of the Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement seeking a court-monitored probe into the case, the court had said, “Law is above all other things and it will take its own course.”
Slamming the public outcry over the alleged delay in action against Jalandhar Bishop, Auxilary Bishop of Changanassery Archdiocese, Thomas Tharayil sought to know whether declaring a person guilty without an investigation and trial was also a new Kerala model. Tharayil said he had learnt that one should be treated as innocent till his crime was proved before the Court of law. “If an accused is a priest or a Catholic Bishop, he will be treated as a guilty till his innocence is proved,” he added.
Meanwhile, agitation of various Catholic reformation organisations in Kochi seeking justice for the nun entered the fifth day Wednesday. Many cultural icons in Kerala including noted poet Balachandran Chullikkad have supported the protest. Leaders of the Mahila Congress, BJP and various rights organisations expressed solidarity with the protesters.
The nun had yesterday shot off a letter to the Vatican representative in India to sack the Bishop, claiming he was using “political and money power” to bury the case. Making a fervent plea for urgent intervention, the nun, in a scathing letter, also sought to explain her silence before coming out against the bishop, saying she had “tremendous fear and shame” and wondered why the church was “closing its eyes towards the truth”.
Speaking to reporters in Jalandhar, the Bishop had said, “If I am found guilty, which I am not, I am likely to be punished… I will appear before police if I am summoned. I am a law abiding citizen.” Senior Kerala minister E P Jayarajan has rejected allegations of attempts to sabotage the case and asserted that the probe was proceeding in the “right direction.”