Thiruvananthapuram: Following protests staged in different parts of Kerala by Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference (KCBC), Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy on Wednesday (June 12) decided to re-examine the award given to cartoonist KK Subhas.

The award-winning cartoon depicts the image of former Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused of raping a Kerala nun multiple times between 2014 and 2016, with the holy stick carrying undergarments on it.

The KCBC, in its Facebook post, alleged that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had undermined priesthood in a vulgar manner.

KCBC also questioned the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government whether they were taking ‘revenge’ on the community after the CPI(M) lost majority of the seats in the recent Lok Sabha election. The politicisation of the incident along with the inherent religious sentiments of many associated with it have made the situation tense.

Kerala's culture minister AK Balan, after examining the cartoon, accepted that it does hurt religious sentiments. However, he said that the state government has no role to play in this claiming that such decisions are taken by an expert committee.

Social activist Aneesh K termed Balan's statement as false. He added, "Pinarayi Vijayan government has the sole right to appoint the members of the expert committee that decides the nominees for these awards."

Many netizens expressed outrage against this move. One of them tweeted saying, "The true colour of pinarayi vijayan n communist party. They do everything to destroy the tradition of hindu temples in the name of renaissance n liberalism. But they won't tolerate anything against christian n muslim religion even if its against a rape accused bishop like franco (sic)."

Catholic Church even published rape-accused Franco Mulakkal's photo in a calendar printed by the ‘Catholicasabha’, which is a mouthpiece of the organisation that comes under the Archdiocese of Thrissur.

Five nuns from a convent in Kottayam Kuravilangadu seminary staged a protest on September 8, last year, in front of the Kochi high court against Mulakkal. This might be the first incident in the history of churches where nuns have held a public protest.

Meanwhile, on January 16, four out of the five nuns, who staged a protest on September 8 in front of Kochi high court against then Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, received transfer orders too.