Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was on Wednesday, 6 February, urged to ensure the safety of the nuns who are witness to a rape case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal.
In a letter, the National Commission for Women (NCW) requested the Kerala CM to personally intervene in the matter to ensure the safety of the complainants, the victim and the fellow nuns.
“The complainants also apprehend danger to their lives, if transferred to distant regions,” the letter said referring to the transfer order issued by their congregation to four nuns sending them to four different places.
“As you are aware of the seriousness of the issue, the National Commission for Women urges your personal intervention into the matter to ensure safety of the complainants, victim (of the case under trial) and the fellow nuns,” the letter added.
In its letter, NCW said that the complainants have alleged that the transfer orders were aimed “to sabotage the case” against Bishop Mulakkal.
The Commission requested the CM “to take prompt action to ensure prevention of sabotage of material evidence and witnesses in pending case against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, so that justice may prevail”.
This is the third time Vijayan has been asked to intervene in the matter.
The four nuns from the Kuravilangad convent who demanded the arrest of rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal had in January written to Vijayan requesting him to intervene in the matter.
Refusing to accept the order, they pointed out that the transfers were effected as they were all witnesses in the case against Mulakkal, the then Roman Catholic Diocese head in Punjab’s Jalandhar, who is accused of raping the victim nun repeatedly between 2014 and 2016.
Days after their appeal, Save our Sisters (SOS), a group of organisations that spearheaded the protests, wrote to Vijayan reiterating the demand of the nuns.
In their letter, the group said that the lives of the nuns will be in danger if they are transferred.
“The rape survivor and the other nuns who supported her in the case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal are facing imminent threat of being separated and sent away from Kerala by the Missionaries of Jesus,” the SOS wrote.
Bishop Mulakkal, a senior member of the Roman Catholic clergy in India, was arrested last year following allegations by a nun that he repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted her at a convent between 2014 and 2016.
Mulakkal had secured bail on 16 October 2018 and was back in Punjab.