NEW DELHI: The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Wednesday has written a letter to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking to take action in ensuring the safety of two nuns who are witnesses in a rape case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal.
The complainants alleged that the transfer orders aimed to split them and to sabotage the case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal
“I would like to draw your kind attention towards two different complaints received by the National Commission for Women from Sister Neena Rose and Sister Ranit Pallasseril of St. Francis Mission Home, Kuruvilangadu, Kerala, who have been directed to leave their convent in Kottayam District, in compliance with the transfer order issued by their congregation last year”, NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma wrote in the letter.
Rekha Sharma said that the orders were issued to pressurise and threaten them as they were prime witnesses in the case.
"As you are aware of the seriousness of the issue, the National Commission for Women urges your personal intervention into the matter to ensure the safety of the complainants, victim (of the case under trial) and the fellow nuns. I, therefore, request you to take prompt action to ensure prevention of sabotage material evidence and witnesses in the pending case against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, so that justice may prevail" the letter added.
Earlier, Save Our Sisters (SOS), a non-governmental organisation had written a letter to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking government intervention to protect the victim and witnesses who led the agitation against Bishop Franco Mulakkal.
“The rape survivor and the other five nuns who supported her in the case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal are facing the imminent threat of being separated and sent away from Kerala by the Missionaries of Jesus”, the SOS in a letter to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan read.
SOS also urged the government to ensure that the lives of the nuns are not endangered by enforcing transfer order.
''We urge the Kerala government to ensure their lives are not endangered by enforcing transfer order. We call upon govt to initiate immediate action to forestall the move to remove them, from their present convent where govt is giving protection, till the trial is completed,'' the letter added.
On January 19, sister Anupama along with three other nuns who had pledged support for the nun allegedly raped by Bishop Franco Mulakkal, also wrote a letter to the CM seeking his intervention in the matter.
On January 17, four Kerala nuns, who transferred out of Kerala for supporting a nun had expressed their fear.
The four nuns have got reminder notices to obey their transfer orders issued by the Missionaries of Jesus Congregation. They had received the transfer order in March 2018.
The Missionaries asked them to leave the Kuravilangad convent in Kerala and to rejoin their communities in Bihar or Punjab.
They got the order a month after they had complained against the bishop within the church. But they had refused to accept it.
Sister Anupama, one of the four nuns who has been supporting a public protest against the bishop, had said, “The transfer was an attempt to weaken the case and an attempt to destabilise emotionally”.
“It is an attempt to split us. There is no guarantee that people who are not protecting us hear will give protection in other states”, she added.
“There is a hidden agenda behind the transfer. The primary intention is to destroy the unity among them”, had said the Kerala Catholic Reformation Movement (KCRM), a Kerala based outfit, which is supporting the nuns.
“The nuns should be given protection. There is a threat to their life. They might not be killed them but there is a chance to tortured them mentally, they will be forced to commit suicide”, had said Indulekha Joseph, KCRM spokesperson.
"We feel this is an attempt to pressurise the survivor nun. We will not go anywhere. If we all move away to different convents, it will be very difficult for her. We will stay here to support her," one of the nuns had told to the media.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal, former head of the Roman Catholic diocese was arrested on September 24 for allegedly raping a nun, had been sent to the sub-jail by the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court at Pala.
He had granted conditional bail by the Kerala High court on October 15, had received a grand welcome from his followers.
A 14-day protest by five MJ nuns, in Kochi, demanded action against Franco had won massive public support, which also expedites the clergyman’s arrest.
The KCBC had urged believers to identify the enemies of the Church, media with vested interests and malcontent elements within the Church who organized a campaign to weaken the Church, using the rape case as a front.
Mulakkal, who heads the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar, Punjab, is the first bishop in the country to be sent to jail on charges of rape.
The nun’s complaint claimed that the bishop had raped her in a guesthouse in Kuravilangad on May 2014 and was sexually harassed several times after the incident.
But the bishop had rejected all the allegations pointing out that her statements are baseless and she does this because the church had rejected her demands for favours.