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Protesting Kerala nuns demand safety of witnesses, speedy filing of chargesheet

The nuns who protested against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal demanded the safety of all the witnesses in the case and a speedy filing of the chargesheet.

SNS | New Delhi |

The four nuns who protested against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal demanded the safety of all the witnesses in the case and a speedy filing of the chargesheet.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, one of the protesting nuns said that the witnesses are living in extreme fear.

“We witnesses are in extreme fear. The investigation of this case is over and the chargesheet was to be filed in court but due to some reasons the chargesheet is getting delayed,” Sister Anupama was quoted as saying by ANI.

Recalling the attempts at transferring the protesting nuns out of the state, the nun said, “Two months back there was an attempt to transfer all of us to various parts of country and to isolate the complainant nun. We want the chargesheet as soon as possible and that we are ensured safety of witnesses.”

The nun added that she is unsure on whether they can “withstand the situation” for long.

On Saturday, the nuns submitted a petition at Kottayam SP’s office seeking speedy filing of the chargesheet.

According to reports Kottayam district police chief Hari Shankar told the delegation that the  chargesheet was almost ready and was expected to be filed in a week.

According to The News Minute, Sister Anupama said that the nuns will restart their protests if there is any further delay in filing of the chargesheet. She also alleged political pressure behind the delay.

“We strongly feel there is political pressure behind the delay in the chargesheet being filed for the case. Bishop Franco is a highly influential person. If need be, he can exercise pressure on government or any other political party,” Anupama told TNM.

The demand for the speedy filing of chargesheet comes just over a month after the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was urged to ensure their safety by the National Commission for Women (NCW).

The NCW had written to Vijayan, a leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), requesting his personal intervention in the matter related to their transfer.

“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.

Read More: NCW requests Kerala CM Vijayan to ensure safety of nuns

In its letter, NCW said that the complainants have alleged that the transfer orders were aimed “to sabotage the case” against Bishop Mulakkal.

The NCW’s appeal was the third occasion when Vijayan’s intervention was sought.

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.

On 27 January, Save our Sisters (SOS), a group of organisations that spearheaded the protests, had backed the nuns’ demand in their letter to Vijayan.

The nuns from the Kuravilangad convent, who demanded Mulakkal’s arrest, were transferred to four different places vide a transfer order issued on 16 January.

It was only after pressure mounted that the transfer order was revoked.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been accused of raping a 44-year-old nun multiple times between 2014 and 2016 and is currently out on bail.