A day after the kin of Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, a key witness in the rape case filed by a nun against Bishop Franko Mulakkal, alleged that his death was not natural but a pre-planned murder, the Punjab Police on Tuesday said they would probe the incident as an unnatural death.
Police have initiated inquest proceedings and registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC, which is done in cases where there may be suspicion over the circumstances surrounding a death.
Father Kattuthara, a priest of the Jalandhar diocese, was found dead on Monday. His family had said it suspected foul play in his death and demanded that the postmortem be done in their presence at the medical college in the town.
Speaking to News18, Kattuthara’s Kerala-based brother, Jose Kattuthara, said that he had received a call from Father Michael Annikuzhikatil in Jalandhar informing him about his brother’s death. “We have serious doubts over his death and believe that he was killed,” he said.
Father Peter from Jalandhar diocese, however, had ruled out foul play in Kuriakose’s death. He said the reason for the family’s suspicion was his statement against Mulakkal. “We are not enemies, we are all good friends,” he said.
Father Kuriakose was transferred 15 days back to the church at Dasuya, police said. He was staying in the premises of the church. He had testified against Bishop Mulakkal, who is facing allegations of raping a nun.
He had, in an interview to Mathrubhumi, said that he feared for his life. Father Kuriakose had supported the Missionaries of Jesus nun who accused Bishop Franko Mulakkal of rape. He had said that he was constantly threatened by church officials because of his support for the nun.