In a shocking incident, several reporters and cameramen from the Malayalam media were attacked on Monday night outside the residence of Franco Mulakkal - the Bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese who has been accused of raping a nun.
Apart from the Kerala media reporters, local reporters from Jalandhar, the Punjab police and the Kerala police who had come to interrogate the Bishop, were present in front of the Bishop's residence in Jalandhar, Punjab, on Monday.
According to sources, the media persons were attacked by goons and security guards outside, while they were waiting to report his impending arrest by the Kerala police who had also arrived at the house for questioning the clergyman.
Another reporter told TNM that the church had deployed security guards in large numbers at the Bishop's residence. "When the Bishop arrived, the camera persons tried to take visuals, but the security guards prevented. Cameras of MM News and Asianet News were broken. Asianet camera person was injured. Nearly 15 journalists including women were locked up, security guards locked the gate. We all had to be inside for an hour. The Punjab police who were present there, didn't act. Then journalists co-ordinated with the Jalandhar press club, they rushed to the spot and protested forcing the Punjab police to act," Prabodh PG, a reporter with News 18 said.
Image courtesy: Rebin Gralan/Mathrubhumi News
A 44-year-old nun with the Missionaries of Jesus had approached the police saying that the Bishop has raped her multiple times in 2014.
â€śWe were waiting there to cover the arrest. At around 3:15 pm the Kerala police team from Kottayam arrived with the escort of the Punjab police and went inside the residence. When we spoke to the SI, ADGP and IG, they said that they were inside questioning the bishop. So we carried this piece of information,â€ť said one of reporters who was in front of Bishopâ€™s residence.
However, the reporters alleged that they were being mislead by the Kerala police as the Bishop had not been present in his residence and had only reached Jalandhar 4 hours later.
â€śThe Bishopâ€™s advocate, a criminal lawyer practising in the Jalandhar Punjab court said that he had not taken an anticipatory bail and was not present at his residence and was on his way from Chandrigarh,â€ť a reporter who spoke to TNM added.
The Bishop finally arrived around 7:30 - 8 pm and it was during this time that around 20 security personnel attacked the media for taking visuals of the clergyman entering his residence.
â€śHe arrived in two cars and as we were taking visuals of the car, we were attacked by the private security personnel. They dragged some of the other reporters inside the gate and attacked them. Many of them sustained minor injuries and several cameras were broken,â€ť he added.
The Kerala police finally completed interrogation at 5 am in the morning and stated that arrest could not be done as there were discrepancies in the statements by the Bishop and others.
The accused Bishop was interrogated following a statement by a 44-year-old nun who said that she was sexually abused by the Bishop several times. He was booked under Section 376 of the IPC (punishment for rape), the Kottayam police has taken 2 months to reach Jalandhar to probe the case.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists condemned the attack and stated that the it took place without any provocation.
(With inputs from Saritha S Balan)