Kerala church tension: Jacobite faction refuses to budge

Published: Sep 26, 2019, 15:38 IST | PTI | Piravom

The stand-off between the Jacobite and the Orthodox factions intensified following a Kerala High Court directive to the police on Thursday to evacuate those belonging to the former from the premises of the St Mary’s Church in Piravom

This picture has been used for representational purposes
This picture has been used for representational purposes

Piravom (Ernakulam): Tense situation continued to prevail in Piravom in Ernakulam on Thursday as Jacobite priests and followers refused to heed authorities' plea for cooperation to implement the Supreme Court order giving possession of a church here to Orthodox faction.

Several priests and faithful of the Jacobite faction staying inside the Church complex threatened that they would jump into the river in front of the building, if they were removed forcefully. The stand-off between the two factions intensified following a Kerala High Court directive to the police on Thursday to evacuate those belonging to the Jacobite faction from the premises of the St Mary’s Church, known as Piravom Valiyapalli, and submit a report by 1.45 pm.

The Court gave directive to the police while considering a plea filed by the Orthodox faction seeking a direction to the District Collector to take over the Church and implement the Apex Court order. The priests and the followers of the Jacobite Church, including a large number of women, protested, saying if the police used force to remove them, they would witness mass suicide inside the place of worship.

"We will not leave the church because this is our home," a top Jacobite priest told the faithful inside the church. However, he said, "Let the law take its own course." He also appealed to the followers not to harm themselves. Following the directive of the High Court, the police held talks with top priests of the Jacobite faction camping in the Church but they continued their protests.

Top priests of the Jacobite Church including its head Baselios Thomas I are camping inside the Church complex along with hundreds of followers, preventing the implementation of the top court's verdict. The Orthodox faction priests, who reached the premises with the police support to enter the place of worship on Wednesday morning, continued to sit outside the Church gate, saying they would leave the premises only after implementing the Top Court order.

Gates of the Church are closed from inside by priests and followers of Jacobite faction, forcing the Orthodox faction priests to sit outside. A large number of police forces have been deployed in the premises. The Orthodox faction reached the Church on Wednesday to take its possession after the Kerala High Court directed the police to provide protection to their priests to conduct religious services in the church.

Even though the Supreme Court had nearly two years ago allowed the Orthodox faction to offer prayers at the church, members belonging to the rival faction allegedly prevented them from entering it. The Orthodox faction had moved the high court after the state government failed to implement the Top Court order.

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