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Row over cartoon on Bishop Franco Mulakkal, Kerala govt to re-examine award

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Thiruvananthapuram, June 13: A cartoon lampooning the bishop Franco Mullakal as a rooster and alluding to the charge of rape against him, that bagged the Kerala Lalitha Kala Akademi award on Tuesday has stirred up controversy in the state.

The Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) on Wednesday launched a protest against the Akademi's decision. Protesters claim the cartoon humiliating Christian religious symbols.

Row over cartoon on Bishop Franco Mulakkal, Kerala govt to re-examine award

The Church urged the government to withdraw the award given to the "vulgar cartoon" and also sought an apology by the akademi officials.

Kerala nun-rape case: Charge sheet filed against Bishop Franco Mulakkal

The cartoon titled "Viswasam Rakshathi" (protection of faith) by K K Subhash of Chengalam and selected by the akademi for this year's award, had appeared in a Malayalam magazine last year after Mullakal was accused of rape by a nun.

Showing Mullakal as a rooster, it also has a pair of pink coloured lingerie in the crosier (staff), carried by a bishop as a symbol of the pastoral office, while a group of nuns is shown fleeing.

As the Kerala Catholic Bishop Council (KCBC) demanded withdrawal of the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi's decision to confer the best cartoon award, the CPI-M led LDF government on Wednesday ordered the akademi to re-examine the matter.

Thrissur-based Lalitha Kala Academi said it would re-examine the cartoon.

Meanwhile, Akademi chairman Nemom Pushparaj said it will not encourage anything that hurts communal harmony.

The bishop, who is presently based in Jalandhar in Punjab state in north India, and the nun, are both from Kerala, and the case has attracted wide media attention from the time it surfaced in 2018.

Mulakkal, was arrested by the Kerala police in September last year amid a public outrage after a nun alleged she was repeatedly raped by him in a convent in Kottaym district between 2014 and 2016. He is out on bail.

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