“Their aim is to single me out and to harass and torture me. My life would be in danger if such a situation takes place,” the survivor nun stresses in the letter she wrote to the Kerala Chief Minister, days after her fellow nuns were asked to follow their transfer orders to various parts of the country. On January 3, the four nuns who spoke against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal - Anupama Kelamangalathuveli, Josephine Villoonnickal, Alphy Pallasseril and Aneitta Urumbil - from the Missionaries of Jesus were asked to leave the Kuravilangad convent, where they, along with the survivor nun, are residing.
On Friday, the survivor nun and four other nuns, wrote a letter to CM Pinarayi Vijayan, requesting him to intervene in the matter and ensure all the nuns could live in the St Francis Mission Home, Kuravilangad itself, till the trial of the case is over, especially considering their safety. “It is expected that the police would submit the charge sheet without much delay,” the letter added.
Calling the transfer a strategy, the nun said that the Church aims to pressurise and threaten the witnesses, "who are nuns and very vulnerable".
"They want to split us and put us in different locations in India. Moreover, all the nuns are prominent witnesses in this case and they will not be able to give evidence before the court at the trial stage in such a situation," she said in the letter, which has been marked to DGP Loknath Behra and Chairperson of the Kerala State Women’s Commission.
The nun also explains how the transfer would affect all of them if it is implemented. "Their (the four nuns) presence is a great solace for me. Now I am in a broken situation and cut a sorry figure before the congregation and the public. Their 'fate of life' itself is unpredictable if they are transferred to distant regions. If the transfer is affected, we will not be in a position to give evidence in the case daringly. We will not be allowed to live peacefully and would be emotionally and mentally collapsed."
The nun also points that if her fellow nuns are sent out of Kerala, it would affect the prosecution and the fair trial would not be possible and thereby justice will not be delivered. "Sr Regina, the Mother Superior, had even mentioned in her letter in October 2018 to the police that myself and the other nuns can be shifted to Government Rehabilitation Centers, which shows their real attitude towards us,” she said.
She also added that although the church wants to put them in unbearable situations and instil fear and anxiety in them in order to settle the case, they are not amenable. However, she adds, "We are not capable to fight with the mighty power of the institution and Bishop Franco."
Ever since the crime came to light, even after the nun filed an FIR in 2018 and Bishop Franco was arrested and released on bail, the nuns and their families have been facing threats. This, the survivor nun and four other nuns, have underscored in their letters.
“We are facing imminent threats in connivance with the authorities of our own congregation. We are not safe in any aspects considering the power, influence and the past activities of the other side. Needless to say, the accused, Bishop Franco, is very powerful in all aspects. His aim to to sabotage the case and to escape somehow, from the crime he has committed.”
The nun also highlighted the kind of treatment meted out to them. "Nowadays, the local authority, Sr Anit Koovalloor, the superior of the house, where we are residing, is not providing us even the minimum requirements, including for our treatments. We have nowhere to go and no income also," the survivor nuns and the four other nuns wrote.
"I am once again praying for justice for myself and my fellow sisters in these circumstances," she concluded in her letter to the CM.