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Kerala: Communist govt to withdraw award given to cartoonist for mocking rape accused Bishop Franco

State Culture Minister AK Balan has examined the cartoon and confirmed that it hurts religious sentiments and that he does not agree with it.

The ‘liberal’ Kerala communist government led by Pinarayi Vijayan has created a massive controversy after it chose to withdraw its decision to award a cartoonist, who had expressed his opinion on rape accused Bishop Franco through his art form.

According to a report in Times Now, cartoonist KK Subhas had published a cartoon depicting rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal as a cockerel, while a ladies’ undergarment is seen at the end of the bishop’s staff. The Kerala Lalit Kala Academy had awarded him with the best cartoonist award for the cartoon yesterday.

However, the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council was not amused, and the KCBC spokesperson Varghese Vallikkat, a priest, said the decision to give the award to the cartoon was “highly provocative and objectionable”. The KCBC had also alleged that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had undermined priesthood in a vulgar manner.

The KCBC also questioned the LDF government whether they were taking ‘revenge’ on the community after their humiliating loss in the Lok Sabha elections. The CPM had just won one seat out of 20 seats from Kerala in the recent elections.

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As supporters of the rape accused Bishop Franco has begun to criticise the government for awarding a cartoonist for expressing his opinion, the state government has now decided to withdraw the award given to the cartoonist Subhas. State Culture Minister AK Balan has examined the cartoon and confirmed that it hurts religious sentiments and that he does not agree with it.

“The state government has no role in it as the award winners were selected by a group of experts. After protests surfaced, we examined it and we found it was not right to hurt religious sentiments,” said Balan.

Franco Mulakkal, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, was accused of raping a 44-year-old nun at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and subsequent sexual exploitations afterwards. The nun had registered a complaint in June 2018 and has also claimed that despite her complaints, the church took no action on the bishop.

The congregation had also stood by the rape accused and referred to him as an “innocent soul”. The Malankara Orthodox Church had been supporting the rape accused Bishop and attempts were also made to vilify the victim nun.

Despite the initial delay in the arrest of the Bishop, Kerala police acted subsequently upon the incriminating pieces of evidence present against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Archdiocese of Jalandhar, Punjab, for allegedly raping a nun from Kerala on multiple occasions. Rape accused Bishop Franco was granted conditional bail in the case on October 15 in the case.

After his release, Bishop Franco was given a grand welcome in Jalandhar where people had arrived in large numbers. Since his release, the Missionaries of Jesus has attempted to silence those four nuns for supporting the victim nun who had accused Bishop Franco of rape.

The four nuns who had supported the rape survivor nun were asked to leave the Kuravilangad convent, and go to convents, previously assigned to them. Shockingly, apart from threats and intimidation, Father Kuriakose who had testified against Bishop Franco was found dead under mysterious circumstances.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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