By Matters India Reporter
Kochi, Feb. 19, 2019: The police in Kerala on February 19 registered a case against a Franciscan Clarist Congregation convent after a nun complained that she was illegally confined and tortured for deposing against a rape accused bishop.
The case arose after the brother of Sister Lisy Vadakkel filed a missing person’s report with the police saying his sister was untraceable for more than two months. After preliminary investigation, the police found the nun in an FCC convent in Muvattupuzha, some 45 km northeast of Kochi, Kerala’s commercial capital.
Sister Vadakkel later told the police that she was transferred to a convent in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. When she reached there the superior took away her mobile phone and confined her to a room for more than a month. When her 90-year-old mother fell ill, she insisted going to meet her in Kerala. She was accompanied by the convent superior and a member of provincial council.
In Kerala, her two companions allegedly followed her everywhere and prevent her interaction with her relatives and others.
Sister Vadakkel was among the first to report against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar who was accused of raping the former superior general of the Missionaries of Jesus multiple times at her convent in Kuravilangad near Muvattupuzha.
In her complaint, she alleged that she was tortured at the Vijayawada convent and forced to retract her statement in the Mulakkal case.
The convent authorities threatened to brand her insane and get her admitted to a mental asylum if she continued to go against the bishop, the police complaint said.
She was produced before a magistrate on February 18 who allowed her to stay in the Muvattupuzha convent as long as she wants.
However, a spokesman of the congregation denied the charges and accused Sister Vadakkel of cooking up the story when she was asked to go to her regular posting in Vijayawada.
The nun was later produced before a local court and allowed to go with her brother.
The prosecution said they will examine the latest development and explore possibilities to cancel the bail granted to Bishop Mulakkal.
On June 28, 2018, the 43-year-old nun complained to the police that Bishop Mulakkal had raped her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. When police failed to arrest him, five nuns staged a sit-in at Kochi, Kerala’s commercial capital.
Later, a special investigation team was floated and the bishop was arrested in September after several rounds of questioning. The prelate then spent three weeks in judicial custody.
Meanwhile the Save Our Sisters Action Council, an interfaith forum to help nuns in distress, has demanded the arrest of the FCC provincial and her counselors for allegedly threatening Sister Vadakkel to weaken the Mulakkal case.
Riju Kanjookaren of the forum told Matters India that Sister Vadakkel, a retreat preacher, and the former superior general of the Missionaries of Jesus have been close friends since 2011 when they met in Jalandhar.
Sister Vadakkel was the first person the victim nun disclosed her ordeal with a request to inform appropriate church authorities.The Clarist nun then informed the police in secrecy and without her superior’s permission, he explained.
In a press release on February 19, SOS described the case as a backlash for those trying to silence witnesses in the nun rape case.
It points out that another key witness in the case, Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, was found dead in Jalandhar under mysterious circumstances last year.
The five nuns alleged several attempts to intimidate and transfer them since they continue to stand with the alleged rape survivor. They live with the victim Iat their convent in Kuravilangad, a town in Kottayam district.
The forum demanded the government to provide protection and security to all witnesses until the case is completed.
It wants FCC provincial Sister Alphonsa Abraham and her counselors arrested for threatening Sister Vadakkel, a key witness, to weaken the nun rape case.