The Punjab police yesterday filed a case of unnatural death in connection with the death of Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, whose body was found locked inside a room in St. Mary’s church complex in Dasuya town. The filing of the case as an unnatural has added weight to the allegations of the late Father’s family which were levied on the Jalandhar diocese Bishop Franco Mulakkal and his supporters. The Punjab police have taken into account the allegations levied by the senior priest which stated that he had been tortured by Bishop Franco for filing a complaint and supporting the victim nuns. The senior priest had also alleged that he was threatened and was attacked by supporters of the Bishop who headed the Jalandhar diocese. The family members of the departed priest too had alleged involvement of foul play in his death, stating that the senior priest had earlier been attacked and had received death threats. The brother of the late priest has spoken about the possible involvement of Franco Mulakkal and his supporters in the death of Father Kuriakose Kattuthara. His brother is also planning to approach the Kerala High Court with a plea to cancel the bail of Bishop Franco Mulakkal who had recently received a grand welcome upon his return to Jalandhar. The family had already filed a case in the Alappuzha police seeking a detailed enquiry into the senior priest’s death.
The late senior priest, Father Kuriakose Kattuhara had been one of the 100 witnesses who had been questioned in the case of rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal. His testimony had cemented the belief that Bishop Franco Mulakkal indeed used to engage in immoral sexual behavior with nuns of the diocese. The nuns who were afraid of Mulakkal and his approach both within and outside the church were reluctant to speak about their ordeals in the open, they instead chose to speak about the assault on them to the late senior priest. His death, which occurred a few days post the release and the ensuing grand welcome of Franco Mulakkal in Jalandhar, even though he was released on conditional bail, therefore it raised some tough questions.
His death will also raise questions on the intentions of the church which has so far steadily backed up Bishop Franco Mulakkal and has chosen to give no support to the victim. Amidst the #Metoo campaign, the Nuns in Kerala are still fighting a lone battle against all odds. Instead of support they are facing threats and abuses. An independent MLA from Poonjar, Kerala, PC George has referred to the nun who accused the Jalandhar based Bishop Franco Mulakkal of raping her 13 times as a ‘prostitute’ and even went on to raise questions on her character. The death of the senior priest also raises questions related to the security of the nuns and others who are supporting them in their fight against the Godmen from the church. Amongst all the voices from the church which were trying to drown the voices of the nuns demanding justice in the Bishop Franco Mulakkal case, his was the only one which had supported the nuns. His statements against the Bishop had provided credibility to the accusations of the victim; therefore, the Bishop and his supporters had enough reasons to sideline Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, raising further doubts over the death of the priest. A detailed investigation by the Punjab police will lay bare the atrocities committed on the nuns and the senior priest by Bishop Franco Mulakkal and will also provide enough details to put them behind the bars.