The Kerala police team probing the sexual harassment case against Franco Mulakkal, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, is yet to interrogate the bishop.
The team, headed by Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police, K Subhash, has been in Jalandhar since Friday. The team has been recording statements from priests associated with the Jalandhar diocese and also nuns from the Missionaries of Jesus. Some reports suggest that the bishop will be taken into custody soon.
When asked about the possibility of arresting the bishop, Kottayam Superintendent of Police Hari Sankar told TNM, “Investigation is a planned activity, we can’t rush into making certain moves during the course of it.” The police officer is monitoring the probe.
However, a report in Mathrubhumi said that the investigation team probing the case has obtained crucial information against the bishop. Nuns at the Missionaries of Jesus headquarters in Jalandhar have reportedly given statements that there was unacceptable behaviour on the part of the bishop, especially during the prayer gathering named ‘Idayanodoppam Oru Divasam’ (a day with the shepherd).
The special prayer had been initiated by Franco Mulakkal in 2014 for the nuns of Missionaries of Jesus. The bishop also reportedly used to demand that the nuns come to the pastoral house at midnight in the name of special prayers, about which also the nuns complained.
Nuns who were part of the prayer team were asked to be with Franco Mulakkal during the day while each of them was forced to meet him for separate sessions during the evenings.
The nuns said that the bishop would call them to his room for the prayer meeting even at midnight and that the meetings were stopped after they complained about the bishop’s behaviour.
The statement of the Mother General, senior most among the nuns, has also been recorded. Missionaries of Jesus is the Roman Catholic religious order for women.
Parishioners had gathered in large numbers at the residence of the bishop on Friday following the diocese’s call for the same.
In June this year, a 44-year-old nun had complained that she was sexually harassed by the bishop multiple times. Though the bishop has been booked under Section 376 of the IPC (punishment for rape), the police team has taken nearly two months to reach Jalandhar to conduct the investigation.
The nun approached the state police with a complaint after her plea to the church to act on her complaint went unanswered.
The delay of the police in arresting the bishop has been flayed by many, especially those calling for reforms in the religious body.
The police had conducted preliminary investigations in Kerala.