The Save Our Sisters (SOS) forum, which spearheaded the protests against rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal in 2018, on Friday alleged 'cover up' by police after fresh reports claimed that another nun had given a statement against the top priest alleging sexual harassment.
The SOS alleged that the police failed to act in the sexual harassment charges levelled against the former Jalandhar diocese Bishop by the nun, who is also a key witness in the 'nun rape case'.
According to the media reports, another nun belonging to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation, who is the 14th witness in the rape case, had given a statement to the investigation team in September 2018 alleging that the Bishop had sent her lewd messages on her phone in 2015.
"Police did not register a case in the second case of sexual allegations against the Bishop by the nun. We suspect the role of influential people in keeping the nun's
statement secret so far. It is a mystery," SOS convener Felix J Pulloodan and joint convener Shaiju Antony said in a statement in Kochi.
They demanded a thorough probe into the case.
The SOS expressed apprehension that the nun, who is currently with the Missionaries of Jesus congregation under Jalandhar diocese, will be forced to change her statement 'yielding to the pressure tactics of the Bishop and his supporters'.
Police have not reacted to the reports of fresh allegations quoting the statement given to the investigation team by the second nun.
A statement issued by Fr. Peter, PRO to Bishop Franco Mulakkal, criticised the media for 'propagating' a statement given by a witness in the case a year ago.
The priest said the statement of the witness-nun was part of the charge sheet submitted by the investigation team in the court.
'That statement of the nun is propagated through media with a wrong intention, that too on the eve of the Bishop's discharge petition to be considered by the court. It is seen as a bid to indirectly influence the court proceedings,' said the statement signed by Peter.
Sister Anupama, one of the nuns who took part in the public protest here demanding rape-accused Mulakkal's arrest, said she and her fellow nuns, who stood by the rape survivor, were not aware of the fresh sexual allegations levelled against the Bishop.
"We see it as a divine intervention. We are happy that more people are coming out openly against Bishop Franco Mulakkal," Anupama told PTI when asked about the reports.
Meanwhile, a lower court in Kottayam will consider on Saturday a discharge plea filed by Mulakkal in connection with the rape case.
In his plea filed before the Additional District and Sessions Court-I, Mulakkal has claimed that prima facie there was no case to frame charges against him.
The Bishop filed the discharge plea as the court was about to commence the preliminary hearing on the rape charges against him.
The rape case is based on a complaint filed against Mulakkal by the nun.
In her complaint to the police in June, 2018, the nun had alleged that she was subjected to sexual abuse by the Bishop during 2014 and 2016.
Mulakkal was arrested in September 2018 by the Special Investigation Team probing the case.
The SIT has charged him with wrongful confinement, rape, unnatural sex and criminal intimidation.