Thiruvananthapuram: KPCC vice president V D Satheesan said that he would request the Kerala unit of the Congress to come out openly in support of the agitation staged by five catholic nuns under the banner Save our Sisters Action Council in Kochi against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal. “I will definitely tell the KPCC that the Congress party has to publicly stand by the victim in this case,” Satheesan told reporters here on Thursday.
Officially, KPCC had not taken a firm public stand in the issue. Top KPCC leaders had expressed their support, but their show of solidarity came late and was measured. KPCC president M M Hassan said the nuns had the moral support of the Congress. “The Congress is not against the Church, but against the crime committed by the bishop,” he had said. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala had questioned the delay in the investigation. Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy refused to take a stand saying the law would take its own course. None were half as vocal as CPM veteran V S Achuthanandan.
Satheesan claimed the Congress is yet to take a strong stand as a probe was on.“But now it is time for us to ask questions,” Satheesan said. “Our belief was that the investigation will go according to the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court. But the latest statement of the investigating officer suggests that efforts are on to bail out the bishop,” the Congress leader said.
IG (Kochi range) Vijay Sakhare, who is heading the probe, said on September 12 that it was difficult to establish whether the bishop had raped the nun, contradicting the affidavit filed in the apex court that said that there was evidence of rape. “The incident took place many years ago, and there is a mismatch between the statements of the bishop, the nuns, and witnesses,” Sakhare had said.
Satheesan called the police investigation a farce. “It is strange that they could not question the accused even once in all these days,” he said. He wanted to know why Bishop Franco was extended the justice denied to Congress MLA, M Vincent. Vincent was arrested the third day after the charge-sheet was filed against him. “We cannot have a situation where Bishop Franco Mulakkal and (CPM MLA) P K Sasi are judged differently from A Vincent,” he said.
Satheesan alleged that top police officials had said that they had not recevied any political go ahead to arrest Bishop Franco. “What political decision are they waiting for in a rape case,” Satheesan asked.
Satheesan said that the state was witnessing a governance freeze. “Give me one major decision related to flood relief and reconstruction that the government has made ever since Pinarayi Vijayan left for the US,” he said. He pointed out three areas where administrative dysfunction had hurt badly. One, he said that the government had not taken damage assessment and data collection seriously. “It has been 23 days since the waters have receded but there is still no segregated data on the number of houses damaged. No one knows how many houses could be reconstructed with Rs 3 lakh, or how many with Rs 1 lakh. There is also no data on the number of toilets that have been damaged,” he said. “Now, what do we tell those people who have volunteered to help in the reconstruction process,” he added.
Two, Satheesan said that no decision had been taken on the compensation package for those who had died in relief camps as a result of medical causes, and also for those who had died from leptospirosis. Three, he said the state had not assessed the damages suffered by small businesses in the floods.