December 11th, 2018 / 6:22 PM /
St. Mary church in Piravom at Ernakulam witnessed violent protest when the Kerala Government tried to implement the 17-month-old Supreme Court verdict regarding its ownership. Supreme Court on July 3, 2017, had given the ownership of 1,100 parishes and their churches to an orthodox faction as per the ‘Malankara Church’ Guidelines of 1934.
On Monday, when the Ernakulam district administration tried to implement court’s order, they were opposed by the Jacobite faction.
Protesters gave suicide threats
As reported by The Indian Express, many priests and believers including women climbed on church’s roof and threatened to jump if they implemented court’s order. Police also tried to handle the situation by negotiating with the agitated crowd. Midst the chaos, two men also threatened to set themselves on fire.
According to Former Jacobite Church Chief Spokesperson Fr Varghese Kallappara, 80 per cent of the worshippers at the Piravom Church belong to the Jacobite faction, only 20 per cent belong to the Orthodox faction. Reports submitted to the government shows that more than 2500 families belong to Piravom church which is much bigger than the other faction.
Catholicos Baselios Thomas, the regional head of Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, while addressing a press conference said, “We’ve always been open for discussion, but no one turned up until now. The prayers inside the church will continue until we receive justice. Where will we go from this Church, which has been like our family.”
Last week curfew in Kerala
The law and order situation continues in many regions of Kerala due to the dispute between the Malankara Orthodox and Jacobite Syrian factions. The reason for the brewing clash between the factions is the ownership of Mar Thoma Cheriyapalli in Kothamangala.
A vicar from the orthodox faction tried to enter the Piravom church for prayer, but he was denied entry by Jacobites. Reportedly, he tried to join the church several times which led to the violent protest. Later, the orthodox faction vicar decided to wait. Last week, a curfew was imposed by the district collector near Kayamkulam, which has been withdrawn on Monday.
Orthodox called the protest a “stage drama”
Reportedly, the police tried to implement SC order to prove during the High Court hearing scheduled on Tuesday that some actions have been taken regarding the verdict.
An orthodox church believer Blessen Eldo said that police is not willing to implement the law otherwise they would have taken this step earlier. “Police officers turning up a day before the HC hearing shows their move is in favour of the Jacobite faction and government,” he added.
Kerala have been witnessing similar incidents over religious issues. The massive protest against the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala is another example where a section of people denied to accept court’s order. The Supreme Court had ruled that women of all ages can enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. Despite the order, women have not been given their rights and the protest continues unabated.
According to Hindustan Times, many women including reporters had to abandon their trips midway and had return home as the devotees and pundits didn’t allow them in. They also threatened that they would close the temple if women entered.