The Missionaries of Jesus congregation of Jalandhar met Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on Wednesday and complained against the police team probing the case of alleged rape of a nun by a Roman Catholic bishop.
Fifteen nuns from the Jalandhar congregation came in support of the accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, a senior member of the country's Roman Catholic clergy, and alleged that the police investigation into the case was "biased".
Bishop Mulakkal was arrested on September 21 amid mounting public outrage over allegations of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting the nun.
- Nun rape case: Kerala court frames charges against Franco Mulakkal
- Nun rape case: Bishop Franco Mulakkal gets bail, again
- Nun rape case: SC dismisses discharge plea of accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal
- HC rejects Bishop Franco Mulakkal's discharge plea in nun rape case
- Bishop Franco Mulakkal misbehaved with me, used to make video calls, says another nun
"The bishop has been arrested without any evidence. He is a victim of a witch hunt to tarnish the image of the Missionaries of Jesus," the nuns alleged.
They said the probe team was threatening those who came out in support of the bishop and harassed them.
The nuns also alleged that the investigating team was intruding into the convents without notice.
A magisterial court in Kerala had on September 24 remanded the Kerala priest to 12-day judicial custody.
In its remand report submitted in the court, police had said the victim nun was subjected to rape and unnatural sex 13 times by the accused at the guest house of St Francis Mission Home in Kerala between 2014 and 2016.
In her complaint to the Kottayam police in June, the nun had alleged that the priest raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her on several occasions. She said she approached the police as the church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints against the clergyman.
The bishop, however, has denied the charges.
Expanding its probe in the case, the Kerala Police had on September 25 issued a notice to the PRO of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation and asked her to appear before it over a complaint about releasing the photograph of the victim.
The congregation had released a photo of the nun seated with her alleged tormentor in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines, which prohibit revealing the identity of a victim of sexual assault.
The congregation had put out the photograph in a release issued to the media for publishing the findings of its internal enquiry commission, which went into the nun's allegations.
The congregation, however, said that it had cautioned against publishing the photograph, maintaining that it could not be held responsible if the press violated the rule.