Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Church in the dock after the arrest of two priests and a nun on rape, murder charges

By S Chandrasekhar

Almost 17 years after Sister Abhaya was found dead in the well of St. Pious X Convent in the Christian heartland of Kottayam, the CBI finally arrested Father Thomas Kottur, Father Jose Puthrukkayil and Sister Sephi on November 19.

The Court gave CBI the permission to detain them upto December 2 for interrogation to unearth incriminating evidence from the three principal suspects to find involvement of others and reconstruction of the crime scene. The Court also gave CBI permission to interrogate in solitary confinement.

Sr. Abhaya, a 21 year old nun of Knanaya Archdiocese and St. Joseph’s congregation, was found dead in the convent well on March 27, 1992. The local Police and Crime Branch, acting on political pressure from the church, then ruling Congress and Christian dominated Kerala Congress closed it as a case of suicide.

But acting on a petition by Human Rights activist Joemon Puthenpurackel, the High Court of Kerala ordered CBI probe. But due to the political pressure of the Kottayam Diocese Archbishop Kuriakose Kunnaserri, which could reach upto even Narasimha Rao, the CBI Dy. S.P. Varghese P. Thomas who honestly investigated the case and who was on the verge of arresting these three, was threatened by CBI HQ and forced to take voluntary retirement.

His findings were that Sr. Abhaya had come to the kitchen of the convent early morning to drink water. There she saw Father Thomas Kottur and Sister Sephi indulging in sex. Father Kottur immediately hit her with an iron rod on her head and with the help of another Father, Jose Puthrukkayil, threw her into the well where she drowned to death.

Despite seven teams of CBI investigating this case for almost 15 years, no arrests could be made, because of the political, social and muscle power of the church which was prepared to go from Narasimha Rao to Sonia Gandhi to save its tainted clergy.

During this period local Police, Crime Branch and CBI had destroyed valuable evidences with regard to the crime.

Finally due to the pro-active role of Joemon Puthenpurackel and the High Court, the CBI swung into action. In the meantime media reports came out that there was ‘semen in the vagina’ of Sister Abhaya when her body was subjected to post-mortem and chemical examination. Investigators point out that the Fathers raped the unconscious Sister Abhaya before throwing her into the well. Are they animals, vultures and beasts in Christian Cassocks?

Even at this stage there were attempts to tamper the brain-mapping and narco-analysis of the arrested three, where they have admitted of committing the crime.

The CBI is also in the process of arresting Sanju P. Mathew, living adjacent to the convent and who was witness to these Fathers throwing Sister Abhaya’s body into the well. Many arrests including of Police officers who helped in destroying evidences is expected shortly.

The newly joined CBI Director Ashwini Kumar stung by the adverse comments of High Court of Kerala, swung into action, brushing aside political pressure.

But the church never relents. Pastoral letters were read in churches of Kottayam Diocese, attacking the CBI for arresting innocent Fathers and nun and praying for their release. But is not Sr. Abhaya also a nun of the church? Who will pray for punishing her rapists and murderers?

Media reports have come out that Vatican spends billions of US dollars every year as compensation for victims of rape and murder by the Christian clergy. Also reports say that even the Vatican admits that almost 10 per cent of its priests and nuns indulge in sex, both within it and outside.

With such dirty linen in your backyard, what morality have you to tarnish the ‘Sangh Parivar’ raising the bogey of ‘Rape of Nun’ in Kandhamal?

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