Missionaries of Jesus, that has been consistently supporting rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, has once again failed the survivor nun. This time, the congregation that is a part of the Jalandhar diocese, has asked the police to shift the survivor and 5 witnesses away from the convent. The congregation has disagreed to implement certain security measures, claiming that they did not have the money for it.
In a letter written to the police, which TNM has accessed, the Mother Superior General of the convent, Sister Regina, has said that it would be ideal to shift the survivor and the witness nuns to a secure government facility, as the convent would not be able to provide additional security for them.
The issue dates back to October 27, 2018, when the Kuruvilangad sub-inspector wrote to Sister Regina, asking her to increase security measures at the convent. In his letter, the officer added a list of security measures and spoke about the death of Father Kuriakose in Jalandhar.
"Under this circumstance where controversies surrounding the death of the main witness of the case Fr Kuriakose of Jalandhar diocese have been circulating, upgrading the security of the survivor, the witnesses and the St Francis Mission home is an immediate requirement,â€ť the letter said.
The requirements included CCTV cameras in the entry and exit gates, street lights from the main road leading up to the convent, grills over wells, proper lighting in the terrace and cuting of big trees in the compound, so branches wonâ€™t block vision.
The officer also asked the convent to give a spare key of the exit door to the survivor, to maintain a registry with all details of the resident,s and to have a separate cook for the six nuns.
Within three days, the Mother Superior General, responded stating that the convent did not have the 'financial capabilities' or the power to execute these arrangements.
"It is of utmost necessity to ensure the privacy, security of the nuns and other residents of the mission home and provide them with a tranquil environment. The convent does not possess the financial capacity and power to carry out the measures you have listed out for the additional security of the survivor nuns and the witnesses. 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.â€ť
Adding that the security of the survivor nun and the witnesses was of utmost importance, Sister Regina said, â€śIf you think there is a threat to the complainant and the other nuns who are witnesses in this case, I believe it would be ideal to shift them to a secure government facility to ensure their safety. I hereby grant permission to shift the nuns to a more secure place to ensure their safety, after consulting them and receiving a court sanction."
On November 21, the Kuruvilangad police conveyed Sister Reginaâ€™s reply to the survivor nun and requested her to respond to the same.
Will not shift from convent, says Sister Anupama
Sister Anupama, who lead the Kochi protest to get Bishop Franco arrested and one among the five witnesses in the case told TNM that the nuns will not shift to a government facility.
"It is their (cops) responsibility to provide us with security. We did not work for the government all this time, we worked for the church. Why would we move to any government home?," she said.
Further, Sr Anupama said that most security measures listed in the letter were not difficult to implement.
"There are already 6 CCTV cameras installed in the convent. Only 2 are working and the other 4 stopped working due to rains and thunder. Apart from this, there were only some small arrangements that were asked to be made. The excuse that they have no money is a blatant lie. Just sometime back, 14 nuns were flown to Delhi so that they could campaign for Bishop Franco," she added.
It must also be noted that Franco had a battery of lawyers, including a senior lawyer representing him at court, all paid for by the diocese.
Sr Anupama added that though there was a woman who cooked for the nuns, the six of them felt nervous as those who served the food are appointed by the convent. â€śWe feel a bit scared to eat from the convent. The list of security measures were sent after consulting us and inspecting the convent," Anupama said.
Church releases calendar featuring Bishop Franco
The Thrissur arch diocese of the Catholic Church celebrated Father Franco by putting his photograph on their annual Catholice calendar issued by the church. The 2019 calendar features Bishop Franco in the month of March- mentioning his birthday which falls in the same month.