PIRAVOM: Piravom Church witnessed high tension on Monday as the police entered the hallowed
premises of disputed St Mary's Jacobite Syrian Cathedral or Valiyapally to implement last year's (July 3) landmark Supreme Court judgment giving the control of the church to Orthodox faction.
The SC had ruled 1,100 parishes and their churches under the Malankara Church should be controlled by the Orthodox faction, as per the 1934 Malankara Church guidelines.
The small town in Ernakulam district stood still amid protests by the Jacobite faction and things got murkier and sentiments ran high when many believers, including women, climbed atop the church
and threatened to jump if police gave control to the Orthodox faction. The police were seen trying to negotiate with the agitated members.
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Jacobites claimed around 2,500-3,000 families of their faction belong to the Piravom Church, much bigger a number than that of the Orthodox.
Jacobite Syrian Christian Church regional head Catholicos Baselios Thomas I, addressing a press conference, said the Orthodox faction should be ready for talks.
"We've always been open for discussion, but no one turned up until now. The prayers inside the church will continue till we receive justice. Where will we go from this Church, which has been like our family," he said.
Piravom Municipality standing committee chairperson Aisha Madhavan said: "The Orthodox faction is less in number under this church. Further, they've built another church just one kilometre away from the
Piravom Church. So many Jacobite families can't be left without a church. We'll continue our protest."
The police attempted to break into the church, but the protesters thwarted the move by threatening to commit suicide.
"We were forced to return following the suicide threats. We just wanted to implement the SC order and have played our part," said Ernakulam SP (Rural) Rahul R Nair.
Meanwhile, the Orthodox faction criticised the Jacobites' 'staged drama'.
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"The SC rulings have always put forward the truth. The Jacobite faction has forcefully removed the church vicar Fr Skaria Vattakkattia, who was appointed following the guidelines. Nearly 2,000
Orthodox families belong to the Piravom Church," said Malankara Orthodox Church PRO Fr Johns Abraham Konattu.
Police prove a point
Sources said the police made the attempt to show before the High Court on Tuesday that some action has been taken to implement the SC verdict.
"The SC ruling could've been implemented much earlier had the police were serious. Police officers turning up a day before the HC hearing shows their move is in favour of the Jacobite faction and
government. We didn't want to take part in the drama staged by the police, we want to abide by the law," said Orthodox Church believer Blessen Eldo.
Catholicos Baselious Thomas I said an episcopal synod (metropolitans' meeting) would be held at the Piravom Church on Tuesday.