Despite the unending campaign against the complainant and her supporters, the garb of nonchalance that rape-accused Bishop of Jalandhar Franco Mulakkal has been putting up has begun to crack, as his participation in the investigation looms. Having earlier issued a letter intimating his intention to temporarily step aside from his duties, Bishop Mulakkal has now written to the Pope seeking permission.
This is at least the second letter written to the Vatican on the Kerala nun rape case. On September 11, the victim had written to Pope Francis seeking justice. In her seven-page letter, she spoke about the "sexual exploitation that she suffered from Bp. Franco from 2014 to 2016". She also mentioned the "continued torture through various means" that forced her to think about "leaving the congregation silently in May 2017".
With Mulakkal set to appear before the Kerala Police on September 19, the complainant's sister will hold a hunger strike in Kochi starting 11 AM on Monday, till the Bishop's arrest.
The past week has seen a quickening of action in the case. The Kerala Police has registered a case against the Church body Missionaries of Jesus for revealing a photo of the alleged rape victim, based on the complaint of the nun's relatives. Before that, the Kerala Police had submitted its second affidavit in the case, even as the High Court deemed that the CBI wasn't necessary to probe the case at this point. Republic TV had also accessed the first affidavit filed by the Kerala Police, on August 13, where the investigation officer concluded based on his probe that the victim nun had been raped repeatedly:
"During the investigation conducted so far and available evidence collected, it is revealed that the accused bishop committed unnatural offence and commitment rape repeatedly on different dates from 05/05/2018 to 23/09/2016 (name not to be revealed) against the will and consent of her by abusing the dominance over her as bishop of Jalandhar after confining her in the guest room of St Francis mission home'"