Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kerala: The arrest of two Catholic priests and a nun for murder

In the last two days the CBI has arrested two senior Catholic priests and a nun for the murder of another nun, Sr. Abhaya.

Sixteen years back the body of Sr. Abhaya, a Pre-degree student then, was found in the well of the convent where she was staying. The investigation into the incident, first by the local police and subsequently by the Crime Branch, lasted ten months. The finding was that the young nun had committed suicide.

Abhaya’s relatives and the Action Council that had been formed to ensure justice in the case did not accept this conclusion. The Kerala High Court endorsed their view and referred the case to the CBI.

The CBI officer who handled the investigation was of the opinion that the nun had been murdered. Shortly he resigned from the service alleging that he was being pressurized by his superior officers to accept the suicide theory mooted by the Kerala Police.

Since then, several CBI teams have investigated the Abhaya case. The two priests now arrested were subjected to modern tests like narco-analysis earlier. Nothing conclusive emerged from that. A few times the CBI approached the Kerala High Court for permission to close the case stating that the evidence
was insufficient to proceed against the suspects.

This move attracted severe criticism by the Court, which directed that a new team be entrusted with the investigation of the Abhaya case. This was done on the 28th of last month. The new batch of sleuths made the arrests within three weeks claiming that they had gathered sufficient proof against the accused.

Several questions arise from this development. Does the new group consist of super detectives? They seem to have unearthed clinching evidence within a few days. This is something their predecessors could not do in nearly fifteen years!

Or, was the evidence suppressed for unknown reasons all theses years and the new batch of investigators merely went ahead boldly and acted on it? A third possibility is that the CBI team has knocked together a weak case. If that is so, the accused would walk free.

The answers to these questions should be available in the near future.

In the meantime, there is, apart from the legal angle, an important aspect to the Abhaya case. In Kerala the Christian community is strong and influential. But, by and large, the attitude of the community seems to be that the law should take its own course no matter whether god-men and women are involved or not.

So far no political party seems to have attempted to take mileage from the new turn in the Abhaya case.

Also see

The Kerala Scene: Girls forced to join convents?


Maddy said...

the nexus between the police and the politician, especially from the ruling party is always tight. yes, a CBI team should in theory work well above that, but in this case, i wonder why no investigative journalist got involved - in this long span!!

cris said...

>>In Kerala the Christian community is strong and influential. But, by and large, the attitude of the community seems to be that the law should take its own course no matter whether god-men and women are involved or not. <<

And thats the right attitude! Proud of the people of Kerala.

Nebu said...

The entire episode of the new CBI team arresting the so called culprits in the Sr. Abhaya case within a few days of taking over the investigation seem to be running along a well scripted plan.
This may be the only way for them to close the case as the courts were not allowing them to do so otherwise. The ploy seem to be to arrest the priests and nun who have been in the distrustful eyes of the public all along and charge sheet them. At the end of the trial when the verdict comes they may be acquitted for want of sufficient evidence. Thereafter there will be one or two appeals and the case will be logically closed.
It will leave everybody happy. The public and Joemon Puthenpurackel because they could see a couple of priests and a nun in cassock arrested and paraded, the media gleeful for they could feast on the visuals and above all the CBI, relived that they could finally close this ignominious case once and for all.
That’s everybody except the priests and the nun; in case they were not guilty, the mental agony and the irreparable damage to their reputation will be indelible.

sakshi said...

I also agree to what Mr Nebu has said.The CBI will go with the case with these clergyman arrested.Even if they are the real culprits they will be aquitted after the trial because of no evidence ! (Since money means more strength to knanaya catholic church than proofs);ultimately the case will be closed leaving everybody happy except the poor abhayas parents..Kudos to the 'honest' church which claims all her clergymen innocents!!

Kariyachan said...

I hope this time CBI will find out all parties involved in the whole saga, as it has more or less become a question mark against the reliability of institutions like the CBI.

sakshi said...

What the problem here with the christian church is that,it has a vast majority of believers which believe that all its clergymen is never sin and that they are a bit above the layman or common man.And these clergymen try to utilize this belief to save them from the law and to cover up their sins.Infact the top christian political leaders had used their influence for them.We should be clever to understand this.Still the top officials of the Kerala Catholic church stick on the allegations that ’some powers’ and CBI are trying to sack the ‘poor priests’ a ‘poor nun’!! As a catholic I am really ashamed to see and hear all these because THEY REALLY KNOW THESE CLERGYMEN R THE REAL CULPRITS’!!!Why do they try to cover up the TRUTH they preach and MISLEAD the PUBLIC? As the High court said In the GOD’S court they will be convicted…GOD Please do not forgive them since ” They know what they are doing”…