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Untenable: on M.J. Akbar M.J. Akbar should have resigned Or else, asked to go

October 16, 2018


Note:Given below are two editorials from the Hindu: one on M.J. Akbar and another on Mulakkal, both in connection with sex abuse and patriarchy, in civil society and in the Catholic church. Both highlight the role played by ‘#MeToo’ – a blessing in disguise for exploited women — which has come of age in India as well.

james-kottoorIn the first instance the Hindu editorial thinks “By failing to immediately force him to step down, Mr. Modi has sent an unfortunate message about his government’s attitude to harassment and the protection of women in workspaces.” What do you think? Is he failing India’s women?

In the second instance as in Akbar’s case Mulakkal is defending his innocence even after weeks of ‘sitin-strikes’ by 6 nuns and wide range of sympthaisers including priests, laity and people of differet faiths and unbelievers.

Bishop Kuriacose odd man out?
What is more, at least one of the 200 bishops of the CBCI, Archbishop Kuriacose Bharanikulangara of Faridabad, had already come out publically in full support of the exploited Nuns and apologized to the Christian community(CCV congratulated him immediately) for the scandal caused by one among them. Of course as in the Case of Akbar, Franco Mulakkal also is getting many supporters, like Kanjirapply bishop going to the extent of comparing Mulakkal to Jesus crucified.

What does it show: if not the ruling political class in India and the Catholic Church are just two sides of the same coin? Or is the Church in India aping the political class to get its sympathy?

Shining Nuns’ Service
Both in the Church and civil society male domination to the extent of denying God-given equal rights to women is doing irreparable damage and suffering to women folk in India, especially to the community of Nuns shining examples of self-efacing service without counting the cost!

It is here that both women and men in the Church in India should come out and resort to #MeToo’ technique as the last technique to bring down bishops from their high thrones and force them to open their shut mouths and prolonged silence, when it comes to taking a stand for or against unpardonable things happening in the Church and society without keeping equal distance from both. More about it later. James Kottoor, editor ccv.

Read below two editorials from the Hindu on Akbar and Mulakkal

The Minister of State for External Affairs, M.J. Akbar, should have done the only right thing in the circumstances — resign. This was the only course to limit the already significant damage to the high office he holds. His legacy in Indian journalism would also have been better served had he quit first and attempted to defend himself legally or otherwise later.

Unfortunately, he chose not to. Upon his return to Delhi from an overseas official trip on Sunday, he went on the offensive by dismissing the long string of charges of sexual harassment made against him by former women colleagues as a tissue of lies. He chose to spin an unconvincing web of conspiracy around the sudden spate of the #MeToo disclosures over the last week.

mj-akbar-7591Mr. Akbar’s basic theme: with elections round the corner, these charges are motivated. There is a second, more specific line in his attempted defence — one that suggests that the gravamen of the charges is vague and unsubstantiated. While it is true that not every one of the dozen or so women have claimed they were physically assaulted, the overall picture they have painted is that of a systematic pattern of sexual harassment.

Their stories range from suggestiveness and innuendo to outright molestation. Together they make for sad and worrying reading, but at least a couple highlight how far he seemed willing to go. Ghazala Wahab, now executive editor at FORCE magazine, has written of repeated molestation at his hands in the mid-1990s when he was her editor at Asian Age. Majlie de Puy Kamp, now a New York-based reporter, has spoken of how a decade later he forcibly kissed her, when she was 18 and interning with him.

Mr. Akbar’s conspiracy theory that the #MeToo charges have settled upon him because elections are now looming is weak and totally unconvincing. He has no political heft and a conspiracy to tarnish him and secure his speedy exit from the Narendra Modi government would have left it none the weaker. Now that he has decided to dig his heels in, the focus cannot but shift to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Why wasn’t his resignation demanded and secured on his return to the Capital? Surely, the Prime Minister had more than enough time to sift through the charges, take stock of Mr. Akbar’s alleged misdemeanours and conclude whether he should continue in the Cabinet.

By failing to immediately force him to step down, Mr. Modi has sent an unfortunate message about his government’s attitude to harassment and the protection of women in workspaces. He has appeared as if he is standing behind Mr. Akbar and will be perceived by many as having failed India’s women

Bishop Franco Mulakkal gets Conditional bail in nun rape case, told not to enter Kerala
K.C. Gopakumar, in the Hindu, KOCHI, OCTOBER 15, 2018

newsrupt2018-10fc56c9c7-a311-4613-8f25-6f2e3664a7f9francoHe was also asked surrender his passport before the subordinate court concerned.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal moved the Kerala High Court after a magistrate court extended his judicial remand

The Kerala High Court on Monday granted bail to Bishop Franco Mulakkal, an accused in a case relating to raping a nun, on stringent conditions.

The Court granted the bail on the conditions that he should appear before the investigation officers on every fortnight; he should not enter Kerala except for appearing before the investigation officers; and that his passport should be surrendered before the subordinate court concerned.

The Bishop in his second bail petition pointed out that the High Court had earlier dismissed his bail plea citing the reason that the statements of several witnesses would have to be recorded. In fact, the statements of the witnesses under section 164 of CrPC had already been recorded now. Therefore, the prosecution did not harbour any fear now that the witnesses would be threatened or influenced. Besides, he no longer held the charge of the Jalandhar diocese.

As a result, he was not in a domineering position at this stage to influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence as apprehended by the prosecution.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been in jail since he was arrested on September 21, 2018. The case was registered by the Kuravilangad police in Kottayam district on a complaint by the nun, who belonged to the Missionaries of Jesus under the Jalandhar diocese. She had alleged that she was raped by the Bishop from May 5, 2014 to May 6, 2016 on 14 occasions in a room attached to the St. Francis Mission Home, Kuruvilangad.

In his petition, Bishop Franco Mulakkal had said the allegations eveled by the nun were “wholly concocted and cooked up only to wreak vengeance” for the action taken against her. His counsel had argued that the nun was inimical towards him since she was removed from the post of Mother Superior and Kerala in-charge on a complaint from her cousin and another nun. His counsel also claimed further detention was not needed since he was interrogated for hours before and after his arrest.

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