Roman Catholic priest Franco Mulakkal was grilled by Kerala police for the third day Friday over allegations of rape and unnatural sex levelled by a nun against him.
Amid the continuing outrage over the alleged repeated sexual assault of the nun, the Kerala government said the probe by the Special Investigation Team was proceeding in the "right direction" and that justice will be done.
"Investigation is going in the right direction. The government is with the victim. The government is with the nuns staging the protest. Certainly the government will take all necessary steps to identify the culprits and bring the guilty to book," senior Kerala Minister E P Jayarajan told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
He said nobody, including those sitting in protest demanding the priest's arrest, has any complaint about the way the investigation is proceeding.
The minister's statement came a day after Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the state secretary of Kerala's ruling CPI(M), said the protest by nuns in front of the high court for Mulakkal's arrest was "ill-motivated".
Speaking at a programme organised by DYFI, the youth wing of the CPI(M), in Thiruvananthapuram Thursday, Balakrishnan had alleged the agitation was ill-motivated and part of a political campaign against the Left Front government.
In an article published in CPI(M) mouthpiece 'Deshabhimani' Friday, Balakrishnan said, "Some forces are trying to portray the nuns' protest as against the government."
"The attempt is to let loose political tension against LDF government and CPI(M). Such political forces are trying to hijack the nuns' protest and through overt and covert means are trying to launch a series of agitations throughout the state," he added.
The faithful should understand this lurking danger and identify these forces, the senior CPI(M) leader said.
In the background of the rape complaint against the priest, there are attempts from some quarters to portray all Christian clergymen in a bad light and bring disrepute to the church itself, Balakrishnan alleged.
"Such communal forces should be identified. Just because a bishop has been embroiled in a case, portraying all priests as bad, is with ulterior motives... If there is evidence, if the accused is a vicar, priest ormuezzin, he will not be allowed to escape and the law will take its own course," he said.
Mulakkal was divested of his pastoral responsibilities as the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of the Missionaries of Jesus by the Vatican Thursday.
Convener of the Save Our Sisters (SOS) Action Council, Fr Augustine Vattoli, condemned the statement of the CPI(M) leader, saying the protesters seeking justice for the victim nun were pained by his remarks.
"The church has taken action against the bishop. Then why does the party speaks for a person rejected by the church. We are pained by the statement against our protest by the secretary of the state's ruling party," Vattoli said.
Kottayam Superintendent of Police Hari Sankar has said the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case would complete the interrogation Friday.
The bishop, who was grilled for more than eight hours Thursday, was directed to be present before the SIT at the crime branch office in Thrippunithura by 10.30 am Friday.
Police have sought legal opinion as to whether Mulakkal, whose anticipatory bail plea is pending before the high court, can be arrested before his petition is disposed of.
Mulakkal has been accused of repeated rape and sexual assault by a nun of his own congregation, but he has denied the allegations.