Sister Abhaya's Ghost Haunts Clergy

By Jayapradeep Viswanathan
December 21, 2008

As part of its investigation the CBI had conducted a Narco Analysis Test on the suspects including the present three accused. The Kerala High Court directed the CBI to produce the result of the Narco Analysis Test in a sealed cover. CBI did it. But instead of the three CDs originally handed over to the CBI Director, only one CD was produced by them before the Court.

A nun is arrested in a murder case, that too the murder of another nun. The illegitimate relationship of accused priests with accused nun lead the murder. The sins of clergies flood regional media in South. The real story.

Unholy profanities by the so-called 'holy men' have shocked the levity in Kerala.

The last of the series is that of the astonishing disclosure of the CBI Joint Director Ashok Kumar at New Delhi. He said, "sixteen years after Sister Abhaya's body was found in the well of a Christian convent in Kottayam, investigations into her murder finally made some headway with the arrest of two Catholic priests and a nun." It is the first time a nun is arrested in this country in a murder case; ironically the victim also is a nun.

"In the first arrests in the case, Father Jose Puthrikka, 56, a former Malayalam professor of a College where the victim Sister Abhaya studied, and Thomas Kottoor, 61, the Diocesan Chancellor of the Catholic Church at Kottayam, were picked up by the CBI. The third, 45-year-old Sister Seffi, who belonged to the same convent as Abhaya, was arrested."

However, the Kottayam Diocese of the church came out with a circular circulated throughout its parishes that, "the arrested are innocent and we should pray for them".

Sister Abhaya, a second year pre-degree student, 18, and a resident of St. Pius 10th Convent, under the diocese of Kottayam was found dead in the convent well in 1992. The local police said she had committed suicide. After months, the Crime Branch section of Kerala Police took up the investigation. The Crime Branch submitted its report confirming the suicide story.

Later, on the direction of the High Court of Kerala, CBI started investigation by Dy SP Varghese P Thomas. Varghese was a brilliant and honest police officer and for his meritorious services he was awarded the prestigious President's National Medal. While the CBI investigation was in progress, the Superintendent of Crime Branch of Kerala Police, KT Michael, who initially investigated and reported the death as "suicide", took possession of Abhaya's personal articles, her veil, chappals, personal diary etc, of high evidentiary value from the RDO court and destroyed.

Varghese P Thomas, on a fine morning resigned from the service of CBI. He had seven more years in service. He had finally arrived at the conclusion that Abhaya's death was a clear case of murder. In a press conference in Cochin he revealed that, his conscience did not permit him to comply with the strong directive given by his superior officer, V Thyagarajan, the then Superintendent of CBI Cochin Unit, who had asked Varghese P Thomas to record the death of Abhaya as suicide in the CBI diary. Thus the case of Sister Abhaya caught media attention all over India and the matter was intensively debated in the Parliament as well as in the Kerala assembly on several occasions.

The Action Council on the demise of Sister Abhaya again approached the High Court praying to remove V Thyagarajan from Cochin Unit of the CBI as well as from the investigation. Further on June 3, 1994 all the MP's from Kerala jointly submitted a petition to K Vijaya Rama Rao, the Director of the CBI requesting him to disallow Thyagarajan to continue in the Abhaya's murder case. As a result ML Sharma, the Joint Director of the CBI, was given charge of the investigation.

The role of V Thyagarajan in the distortion of Abhaya's case was apparent in the High Court when Varghese P Thomas produced an original copy of a report sent by V Thyagarajan to the Joint Director of the CBI suggesting that further investigation into the death of Sister Abhaya should be dropped, despite the death being recorded in the CBI diary as 'MURDER' by Varghese after due consideration of the material facts of the case. As a result, Thyagarajan was transferred to Chennai unit of CBI; that is all.

In 1995, Dr SK Patak, the chief of the Forensic Department of Saiman Singh Medical College, Jaipur and Dr Mahesh Varma, former chairperson of Anatomy Section submitted their formal expert report to the CBI to the effect that, it is clearly a murder. Subsequently the CBI declared that the killers would soon be arrested.

But nothing happened. No one was arrested. The investigation itself was limping. On a petition the High Court again directed the CBI to complete its investigation in three months.

Kerala MP's then pleaded the PM to expedite the investigation. Then, interestingly, the CBI filed a petition in the Chief Judicial Magistrate's court, seeking permission of the court to wind-up its investigation in the matter! The father of Sister Abhaya, Thomas, filed a counter petition against that request. It changed the whole course of the case.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) directed the CBI to re-investigate the case. The court strongly criticised the CBI for its loyalty and complicity to certain vested interests to defeat the ends of justice. The court asserted that the case could have easily been established had there been an honest investigation. The court observed that certain "invisible hands" were still trying to scuttle the case and are trying to influence the investigating agencies.

By that time, The New Indian Express reported that the original chemical examination report of the vaginal swab and vaginal smear of Abhaya has been found to have been tampered with. The manuscript of the workbook report from the Chemical Examination Laboratory shows overwriting at four places. Using a whitener and a different ink, the word "not" has been added to the word "detected," so as to contradict the result for testing semen detection in vagina. Varghese P Thomas, who was the first to point to murder, said the post-mortem and lab reports had ruled out rape, leaving no scope for suspicions on the veracity of the report.

As part of its investigation the CBI had conducted a Narco Analysis Test on the suspects including the present three accused. The Kerala High Court directed the CBI to produce the result of the Narco Analysis Test in a sealed cover. CBI did it. But instead of the three CDs originally handed over to the CBI Director, only one CD was produced by them before the Court.

The court observed that the CD submitted by the CBI appeared to be tampered with. The CBI suddenly transferred RM Krishna, the team leader who had done the Narco Analysis Test. Then judge, Justice Ramkumar again hooked up CBI and warned "…don't, think that CBI is above Court". On the discontentment on the way in which the CBI handles the issue, even after repeated directions, the High Court ordered the Chief Judicial Magistrate Ernakulam to monitor the progress of the investigation.

Early this month, the Court expressed its dissatisfaction on the deputation of Delhi unit of CBI to investigate the case and had asked the CBI to explain why it had entrusted the investigation to a police official of the rank of Dy SP, and directed the investigating officer to appear before it.

Accordingly the present investigating officer Dy SP Nandakumar K Nair, met then judge Justice Basant in his chamber and reported the progress. The Court asked that the investigating officer should be made free of all other duties and should make all efforts to find the truth in the case. The Court also expressed its satisfaction over the new CBI team and directed it to file an interim report within 45 days. The Court said the investigating officer could approach the Chief Judicial Magistrate if there is any "external influences". That ultimately resulted into the present arrest.

The Malayala Manorama daily and other vernacular media which closely follow the investigation, report, the CBI comes to a conclusion that Sister Abhaya when she came down to take cold water from the fridge to wash her face since she was getting sleep while studying for her Pre-Degree final examination, she witnessed the unholy goings on in the nunnery. That prompted her executors to terminate her to wipe off that evidence. Such incidents abound.

[Pappachan of Kollam in Kerala, the father of nun Anupa, 22, who committed suicide, weeps that, his daughter killed herself because Sister Albeena, senior Sister of the Convent, used sleep with his daughter…Why Sister Albeena moved an Anticipatory Bail application in the High court ?


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