The Kerala police, which reached Jalandhar on Friday, will begin interrogating the Catholic bishop of the Jalandhar diocese accused of sexually assaulting a nun several times.
The team is reportedly set to take the statements of 15 people; it is also likely to record the statements of the Missionaries of Charity nuns.
On Friday, several parishioners gathered outside Bishop Franco Mulakkalâ€™s house even as the team reached the city.
The six-member team, headed by Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police Subhash, is likely to stay in Jalandhar for two days.
Kottayam SP Hari Sankar, who is monitoring the probe, told TNM that the statements of the priests in the diocese have been taken. â€śThe bishop has not been arrested yet,â€ť he said, but declined to comment on when he would be interrogated.
A report in Mathrubhumi suggested that the bishop would either be summoned to the Armed Police Headquarters in Punjab for interrogation or the police team would question him at his residence.
Members of the Jalandhar police are accompanying the Kerala team.
In June this year, a 44-year-old nun filed a complaint with the police, alleging that Bishop Franco Mulakkal had sexually assaulted her multiple times. An FIR was filed under Section 376 of the IPC (punishment for rape). The nun approached the state police with the complaint after the church hesitated to act on her statement.
The fact that an FIR was filed in June, but the police team reached Jalandhar only a month-and-a-half later was flayed by many.
The police conducted a preliminary probe in Kerala and statements were taken from the head of the Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal Mar George Alencherry and a few nuns of the convent.
On July 19, an audio clip broadcast by a Malayalam television channel, purportedly revealed that Cardinal Alencherry had lied about not knowing that the nun had been sexually abused by the bishop. Later, although the Syro-Malabar Church admitted that the voice in the audio clip was that of the Cardinal, it claimed that the contents had been â€śtwisted and interpreted wronglyâ€ť.
A week later, another audio clip emerged wherein Father James Erthayil, attached to the Kanjirappallly diocese of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, tried to bribe Sister Anupama, one of the five nuns who supported the survivor. Father James offered to build a convent for the nuns if they stopped supporting the survivor.