Stalemate ends for now as Ramban shifted to hospital

Therefore, we had to shift him to the hospital,” said Basil Thomas, SI, Kothamangalam.

Published: 22nd December 2018 02:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd December 2018 03:05 AM

Fr Thomas Paul Ramban being shifted to hospital from the premises of St Thomas Church, Kothamangalam, on Friday | Express

Express News Service

KOTHAMANGALAM: The nearly one-and-a-half day-long standoff between the Orthodox and the Jacobite factions of the Malankara Church on the premises of St Thomas Church (Cheriyapally), Kothamangalam, was resolved temporarily on Friday after the police shifted Fr Thomas Paul Ramban, vicar of the Orthodox faction, to a hospital in Kolenchery.

The vicar, who had been camping outside the church in his car since Thursday afternoon, was shifted to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Medical Mission Hospital at Kolenchery around 2.30 pm on Friday.

Fr Thomas Paul Ramban, who was blocked by the members of the Jacobite faction when he tried to enter the church to conduct prayers on Thursday, was shifted to the hospital on the direction of the District Collector, after the doctors verified that his health has deteriorated. “We shifted him to the hospital as per the directive of the District Collector. The doctors who examined him in the morning said his health was deteriorating. Therefore, we had to shift him to the hospital,” said Basil Thomas, SI, Kothamangalam.

However, the Ramban denied any major decline in his health condition. “I only had difficulties due to the cramped conditions inside the car. Otherwise, my health is fine. But, the other four persons accompanying me had to leave due to health reasons. The police forced me to leave the place,” he said.

Though the case is due for consideration in the High Court on January 4, the Ramban intends to continue his efforts to enter the church again, before the court takes up the case. “The High Court has given directives to the government to enforce its order, and so far, they have failed in carrying out their responsibility. Nevertheless, I will make every attempt to enter the church to offer services,” he told Express.

Meanwhile, the protests continued in full swing outside the church. “We will not entertain any attempts by this vicar, who does not accept our Patriarch or his representative Eldo Mar Baselious, who is interred here,” said Johncy C M, a parishioner of the church.

“It is completely unjustifiable,” said Fr Johns Abraham Konat, spokesperson of the Orthodox Church. “Though the court order favours us, the police have failed in their duty,” he said, adding that the police officers and the government have favoured the Jacobite faction in the Kothamangalam church issue.

‘It’s the state’s responsibility to implement court order’

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Friday observed that it was the responsibility of the state government to implement the court orders in the Malankara Church dispute cases. It also directed the Centre and the police to file affidavits in response to a plea filed by Fr Thomas Paul Ramban, priest of the Orthodox faction, alleging the police were not enforcing the court directive to give him police protection for offering  prayers at St Thomas Church (Cheriyapally), Kothamangalam.

The petition said the police were doing nothing to implement the court order. The police had totally failed to maintain law and order on the church premises even after the court had expressed its anguish at the police action. The petitioner also sought a directive to deploy the CRPF to enforce the HC order to provide police protection. The Government Pleader submitted 1,500 people belonging to the Jacobite faction were camping inside the church while around 200 have gathered outside the church premises. The court said the government should be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations levelled by petitioner before passing an order. The court posted the case to January 4.

Division Bench recuses from hearing Piravom Church case

Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday recused itself from hearing the petitions filed by the Orthodox faction seeking police protection for implementing a Supreme Court judgment in the matter of temporal and spiritual administration of St Mary’s church at Piravom. When the petition came up for hearing, a Bench comprising Justice V Chitambaresh and Justice R Narayana Pisharadi said they were avoiding the hearing of the case.   The petitioner’s counsel asked what would happen if all the judges avoid the case. Earlier a Bench headed by Justice P R Ramachandra Menon avoided the hearing of the case.

‘Ramban’s actions are shameful to Christian community’

Kochi: Fr Varghese Kallapara, convenor, the Quest for Peace Secular International Samithi, said the Ramban’s actions are shameful to the Christian community. “The Ramban is a position given to him by the Church and he is not supposed to resort to such actions. His deeds are shameful to the entire Christian community,” he said.