It is the 12th day of protest seeking justice for the 44-year-old nun of the Missionaries of Jesus who was allegedly raped by Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Diocese of Jalandhar. The tiny shamiana-roofed protest hall at Vanchi square near Kochi High Court was packed, with crowds streaming in from different districts of Kerala to stand in solidarity with the nuns and their demand for justice.
Oddly enough, no political leaders, from both the ruling or opposition parties, were found at the protest site. Among the prominent faces were writer, feminist and activist P Geetha, who has been holding a hunger strike along with the sister of the survivor nun. Malayalam actor Joy Mathew who was the other prominent person in the crowds strongly condemned the delay shown by the police in arresting the rape accused bishop.
Stating that the culprit has to be immediately arrested, Joy said âIf it was a common man, the police would have arrested him almost immediately. Believers of justice have come from different parts to participate in the protest . And it is to ensure that the Franco is arrested immediately."
With a delay of over 85 days in taking action in the case, ever since the FIR was filed on June 21 this year, Joy believes that there is a clear nexus between the government and clergy, which has slowed down the process
âIt is a power oriented situation and the government is playing vote bank politics. Whenever elections come they go to the Bishopâs house to ask for votes. So now they have to compromise and not react for fear of losing support.â
Stating that people have to stop calling the rape accused âBishopâ and stick to addressing him as Franco, Joy added that the concept Church itself should we revamped in order to prevent such incidents from repeating.
âWe need to stop calling him Bishop. He should only be called by his name - Franco The church is in control of many institutions - be it the hospitals, schools or other places. Therefore people are scared to react for fear of not getting jobs in these places or suffering ostracisation in any other manner.â
Even as the protest continues in Kochi, the rape accused bishop is being interrogated in Tripunithara Superintendent of Policeâs office with Kottayam Deputy SP Subash leading the questioning. However even if the Bishop is arrested today, the protesting nuns have confirmed to TNM that they will not be ending the protest with just the bishop's arrest, but will continue till the investigation progresses.