Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun from the Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) congregation, was given a hero’s welcome when he went back to Jalandhar, after being granted conditional bail by the Kerala High Court.
A smiling Bishop Franco Mulakkal was showered with rose petals when he returned to Jalandhar, and visuals showed him being welcomed with a huge garland. He reached the Bishop House on Wednesday evening, and was received by a large number of supporters, nuns, and the current administrative Bishop.
According to the Indian Express, posters that welcomed him back were put up in various locations around the Bishop House, and many supporters raised slogans, and came to show their solidarity with the Bishop.
Image courtesy: Rebin Gralan/Twitter
“The prayers of the people of Punjab supported me. I believe that they will pray for me even in the days to come. I thank everyone. Right now, the investigation is underway and I am cooperating. I'm a law abiding citizen and I trust the legal system of the country,” Bishop Franco Mulakkal told mediapersons.
He secured the bail with strict conditions that he should not enter Kerala, must surrender his passport and should appear before the police once every two weeks.
Similar visuals were seen in Kerala, when the Bishop left for Jalandhar after securing bail.
"I escorted him to his car, as there were hundreds of people who came to express their support to the Bishop," said independent MLA P C George.
"There were hundreds of his supporters, including several nuns and his well-wishers who conducted a small prayer session outside the jail," he added.
The Bishop of Jalandhar has been accused of raping a 44-year-old nun multiple times between 2014 and 2016. Two months after the survivor lodged a complaint, five nuns from the convent -- Anupama, Josephine, Neena Rose and Anaitha - protested in front of the Kerala High Court alleging inaction by the police. This sparked outrage across the state, following which the Kerala Police issued summons to the Bishop, asking him to appear for questioning on September 19. He was arrested on September 21 after three days of questioning. On September 24, he was sent to two weeks of judicial custody.
A day before his arrest, the Apostolic Nunciature to India accepted Franco Mulakkal's request to be relieved of his religious duties temporarily. Pope Francis also appointed the Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Bombay to take over the duties.