There seems to be no end to the ordeal the nuns who protested against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal are facing. Four of the five nuns who supported their fellow rape survivor nun - Sister Alphy Pallasseril, Sister Anupama Kelamangalathuveliyil, Sister Josephine Villoonnickal, and Sister Ancitta Urumbil, have been asked to leave the Kuravilangad convent. In an effort to isolate the nuns, and to break their collective strength, each of them has been asked to return to the convent they were previously assigned by the Missionaries of Jesus.
Letters accessed by TNM show that Superior General Regina Kadamthottu has asked the four nuns to immediately leave the convent in Kerala and not to make the legal case an alibi to stay back. The Superior General, however, has not asked Sister Nina Rose, the fifth nun, who was part of the protest, to leave.
Sister Anupama, for example, has been asked to go back to Chamiyari community in Punjab, where she was appointed as one of the members in March 2018. “You have chosen in your individual capacity to support and pursue the legal battle seeking justice. 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,” the letter, written on January 3, reads.
What the Superior General, however, does not mention is that Sister Anupama was transferred in March 2018, when tensions were high between the congregation and the nuns. The nuns had made it amply clear that they will not leave their friend and rape survivor alone in the Kuravilangad convent.
Sister Ancitta has been asked to join the Pariyaram community, Kannur, where she was shifted to in May 2018.
Sister Alphy has been asked to join the Pakartala community in Bihar, where she was appointed as the Mother Superior in May 2017. The letter to her says, “It pains me to note that you had not only chosen to abandon the Pakarthala community but also paid scant heed to my repeated instructions to return to the community, to which you belong canonically.”
Sister Alphy, who is close to the survivor nun, has returned to Kerala to provide moral support. Not just that, from November 2017 to June 2018, Bishop Franco Mulakkal had filed multiple cases against these nuns, the survivor nuns and her family, accusing them of threatening to murder him. In November 2017, the bishop filed a case against her and another nun, Sister Anupama, in Punjab, accusing them of threatening him that they will take their own life.
Sister Josephine was appointed as Superior at Lalmatia community in Jharkhand in May 2017 and has been accused of “abandoning the community”. She, too, has been asked to go back.
All the letters say: “Accusations sans truth have been flying thick and fast in the public realm about the lack of concern the MJ Congregation was showing to the nuns who are standing for justice. Even as you and a few other MJ members continue to have no qualms in issuing malafied public statements and circulate baseless stories tarnishing the images of the MJ congregation and portraying the Mother General and other members as "enemies of those who are fighting for their justice", I have been ensuring that the congregation continue supporting you all with food, accommodation and the cost of medical treatment as required.
The five nuns had participated in the protest in September 2018 organised by the Save Our Sisters (SOS) Action Council against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, head of the Jalandhar diocese of the Catholic Church.
Edited by Shiba Kurian.