The dharna by the Missionaries of Jesus nuns in Kochi demanding the arrest of bishop Franco Mulakkal for allegedly raping a colleague in a Kottayam convent entered the eighth day on Saturday. From a small protest by five nuns, it has virtually grown into a movement over the past week. Sister Anupama, one of the nuns heading the protest, spoke to Ramesh Babu on the controversy. Excerpts:
The bishop has handed charge to his deputy to join the probe. Will you continue your stir?
Definitely. We will continue till the bishop is arrested. Come what may, we will take it to its logical conclusion. It is a temporary arrangement that the bishop has given his charge to his deputy. It is eyewash; we need justice. We turned to everyone, including the Church higher-ups and the police, for help but they all ignored our repeated pleas. We have been running from pillar to post for the last two years.
Is it a spontaneous stir or a well thought-out one?
When all options were closed, we were forced to take to the streets. It was a spontaneous move. Initially, we were scared, but when we got public support, we got some strength. We are getting good support from all quarters. On Saturday, many priests from the Angamally-Ernakulam diocese met us, pledging their support. Despite the church gag against showing any sympathy for us, our support is swelling.
But the church says external forces are supporting your movement…
What else can the church say? Now, it says the stir is against believers and the establishment. It wants to create confusion and weaken our stir. No external forces are behind us other than our family members. We don’t know who all are coming and sitting here. We will end the stir the day bishop Franco is arrested. We were lured with tall promises, intimidated and wrong cases were foisted on us… There were many attempts to endanger our lives but we are not bothered.
Police say there are many contradictions in the nun’s (survivor’s) statement as well?
More than the church, what really shocked us was the indifferent attitude of the police… Despite a big outcry, I don’t know why they dread touching the bishop… The survivor was questioned seven times but the accused only once. It seems the petitioner is being hounded again… We are happy with the investigating officer but it seems his hands are tied.
Who is protecting the bishop?
We are not here to pinpoint to anyone. But you can see that despite knocking on many doors, including the Pope’s, there is no response. Now they are in a race to shame the survivor and the witnesses. It shows us if you have money and muscle, you can get away with such sins. Our struggle is only for justice and we are aware authorities will hound us when the stir is over.
First Published: Sep 16, 2018 08:49 IST