Writers, activists write to Kerala CM asking state to protect nuns in Franco case
Writers, activists write to Kerala CM asking state to protect nuns in Franco case

Writers, activists write to Kerala CM asking state to protect nuns in Franco case

One of the nuns supporting the rape survivor in the case has been asked to appear before authorities in Jalandhar where the accused Franco Mulakkal is housed.

A petition addressed to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to safeguard the nuns who supported the rape survivor in the case against suspended Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal, has been signed by eminent personalities from across the country.

The five nuns and the rape survivor who had come out in the public a few months before to demand the arrest of Franco Mulakkal, are now being asked by their congregation, the Missionaries of Jesus, to join different convents in Punjab, Jharkhand, Bihar and Kannur, in an apparent move intended to separate them. Among them, Sr Neena Rose has been asked by the church to appear before the authorities in Jalandhar where the accused Franco Mulakkal is being housed, to explain her actions. The nun, however, did not go before the congregation. Franco was arrested soon after a month-long protest the nuns took part in, at the Vanchi Square in Ernakulam. The other nuns who took part in the protest - Sr Anupama, Sr Josephine, Sr Alphy, Sr Ancita – are also facing threat and harassment within the convent, the petition says.

It has been signed by writers like K Satchidanandan and Anand, journalists like Pamela Philippose and Rosamma Thomas, activists like Kavitha Krishnan, Lawrence Jesudas, K Ajitha, professors like TT Sreekumar, Dr KM Seethi, Bhumika and Priya Murthi, among others.

The petition also cites the Witness Protection Scheme 2018 approved by the Supreme Court that says that the authorities should ensure that “witness and accused do not come face to face during investigation or trial”. One of the main witnesses in the case, Fr Kuriakose Kattuthara, died in Jalandhar when Franco Mulakkal was released on bail.

“Fr Kattuthara’s relatives have raised this issue and they reasonably suspect this as a well-planned murder. We strongly believe that by enforcing the transfer order issued to the nuns supporting the survivor/witnesses the congregation of Missionaries of Jesus is, in fact, purporting to help the accused Franco Mulakkal to come in contact with the witnesses in a bid to influence their evidence,” the petition says.

Sr Regina, the Mother Superior, who directed Sr Neena Rose to appear before the authorities in Jalandhar, had earlier voluntarily deposed before the police in defence of Franco Mulakkal. The petition notes that Sr Regina had explicitly come out against the nuns in the media. “It is also evident that Sr Regina denied opportunity to Sr Neena Rose to appear for the final examination of her Post Graduate course. Apart from this, Sr Anupama was compelled by Franco Mulakkal to write an apology in November 2017, and Sr. Regina was instrumental in making this happen.”

The petition asks the congregation and the state to extend protection and support to the rape survivor and the nuns supporting her – who are also witnesses in the case. The petition has been signed by the Save Our Sisters along with the dignitaries endorsing the statement.

It is understood that an earlier letter that the nuns sent to the Chief Minister (on January 18) as soon as the transfer orders came, has been acknowledged, but no further action has been taken. However, they are receiving security.

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