Call for thorough probe into Kerala nun’s death

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi published on August 21, 2011

Almost two decades after the murder of Sr Abhaya in Kottayam, the death by water of another Christian nun hailing from the same district is set to become a controversy in Kerala. Intense demands have come up from various quarters for a through probe into the death of Sr Ancy Mary (48) last week at a convent Thiruvananthapuram district which the police have hurriedly described as a suicide case.

The local police had shown “undue” urgency to declare the death of Sr Abhaya (19), whose body was found in the well of the St Pius X Convent in Kottayam on the morning of March 27, 1992, as a case of suicide. Sr Ancy Mary’s body was found in the waste water tank of the Fathima Matha Convent in Poonkulam near Kovalam beach resort on the morning of Wednesday last.

The Kerala State Commission for Women has already decided to hold an investigation into the death of the middle-aged nun, who, relatives said, had no reason to commit suicide. Rights activist Jomon Puthenpurakkal whose relentless efforts had led to the finding that Sr Abhaya was brutally murdered has called for a high-level probe into Sr Ancy Mary’s death.

The Thiruvananthapuram police had concluded within 24 hours of the death of Sr Ancy Mary that it was a case of suicide, a theory suggested by the convent authorities immediately after the sighting of the body. The police and convent authorities are of the opinion that she could have committed suicide due to depression caused by some allergy she was suffering from.

However, the nun’s father and brother said that they did not believe the suicide theory. Her father Philip said there was no reason for Sr Ancy Mary to commit suicide. “She had called us even last week. There was not even a small hint of any worries in her voice or words. Instead, she had sounded very happy,” said Philip.

Josemon, the nun’s brother, said the death was mysterious and the theory that she committed suicide due to some skin disease could not be accepted. “I don’t think my sister will commit suicide just because there were some black patches on her skin due to some allergies. That simply is not a convincing reason. There should be a proper investigation,” he said.

Even police officials admit that it was difficult to think that the nun could remove the 22-kg heavy concrete lid of the water tank by herself top get into it. Also, it was impossible to think that the fat woman could have entered the tank through the narrow manhole without suffering even a single bruise anywhere on her body, an official suggested.

However, the police’s theory is entirely based on the post-mortem report which does not speak of any injuries or any other signs of murder. The forensic experts who did not find any suspicious signs in their examination of the spot and the body agree with it. The post-mortem report also says that the nun had not lost her virginity ruling out the possibility of a rape.

The police claim that there was no circumstantial evidence that raised any serious suspicions as they had found no such indications in the statements they received from more than 50 persons whom they had questioned. But relatives and neighbours of her family in Kottayam point out that the police had perhaps depended heavily on the statements of the convent authorities.

They point out that the police have also not looked into the contradictions in the statements of certain inmates of the convent. While the convent authorities claim that they had found the body when they went looking for the nun as she was absent at the morning prayers, neighbours say that they had seen the body first.

Jomon Puthenpurakkal questioned the police’s haste to conclude the case as one of suicide within 24-hours of the death and asked how the middle-aged nun could remove the heavy-weight slab that covered the manhole of the water tank. He urged the Chief Minister to take steps to assure a proper probe to remove the doubts in the minds of people.

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