The death of Divya P John, a final year novitiate trainee at Baselian Convent at Thiruvalla in Kerala on May 7 has become a controversy with a global collective of Keralaites demanding a CBI probe into the incident.
Divya (21) was found dead under mysterious conditions in the well of the convent on May 7 around 11 am and the officials of the Church term it as a case of suicide. But members of JSL, (Justice for Sister Lucy) a global organisation fighting against the Church officials who excommunicated Sister Lucy Kalapurackal from the religious congregation for her uncompromising stance against exploitation of nuns by some of the vicars and bishops of the Church, expressed their reservation over the attitude of the Church superiors who they allege jumped into the conclusion that Divya had committed suicide.
“Divya is the 22nd nun trainee who was found dead under mysterious conditions. During the last 28 years, we have seen 22 nuns losing their lives under mysterious conditions.
The dead include Sister Abhaya of Pius X Convent, Kottayam. She was found dead under similar conditions in the well of the convent on March 27, 1992 and the Church authorities claimed that it too was a case of suicide,” said Luckose Chullikkara, a devote Catholioc from Kasaragod who is an office bearer of the JSL.
The JSL in a representation to Chief Minister Pinatrayi Vijayan, a copy of which is with The Pioneer has demanded that the probe into the ‘alleged suicide’ by Sr Divya should be handed over to the CBI for an impartial and judicious investigation.
The sped with which the Church officials and the management of the Convent ruled that Divya committed suicide itself evokes suspicion.
The protective wall of the well is 0.75 meters tall and the well is covered with an iron grill. It has a small opening through which only a bucket could go down. It is humanly impossible for a person like Sr Divya to climb over the wall , remove the grill and jump into the well,” said Luckose.
Sister Lucy Kalappurackal was in the news when she wrote her autobiography “In the Name of God” in which she had elaborated about the sexual exploitation of nuns by the Church officials.
She also took part in the agitation demanding the arrest of Bishop Franko of Jullundur who is alleged to have sexually exploited many nuns in the convent of which he is the head. Though the Kerala Government was reluctant to file a case against Franko despite the victims coming out with complaints, the State-wide agitation forced the CPI(M)-led government to initiate action against the Bishop who was arrested and released on bail.
Sr Lucy Kalapurackal, who faced the wrath of the Church for going public with the details of the cruelties she had endured in the congregation told The Pioneer that Sr Divya’s family members were under pressure from certain sections of the Church to remain silent over the issue. “ A section of the media, promoted by the Church, is spreading rumours and fake news against Sr Divya. In fact the mouthpiece of the Church has alleged that disrespect was shown to the dead body of Sr Divya while it was taken out from the well,” said Sr Lucy who is apprehensive over the insecurity of nuns engaged in noble profession of service as the Brides of the Lord.