KOTHAMANGALAM: Members of a Jacobite faction were arrested on Thursday after they prevented an Orthodox priest from praying in a church here in Kerala despite a court order.
About two dozen Jacobite parishioners, including women, were arrested, although Father Thomas Paul Ramban still failed to get an entry into the Kothamangalam Church and had to retreat.
A court had earlier barred the Jacobite faction from entering the particular church but allowed Ramban to offer prayers there.
On Wednesday, the Kerala High Court had slammed the police who failed to give protection to Ramban.
On Thursday, the police's effort to take the priest inside the church was again foiled by hundreds of Jacobite faithfuls.
The row over the particular church has been going on for many years.
The Syrian Orthodox Church has two factions -- the majority group is the Orthodox one, which has its headquarters in Kottayam; while the Jacobites consider the Patriarch of Antioch, based in Beirut, as their supreme leader.
During a brief period, between 1958 and 1970, following a Supreme Court ruling, both factions had remained under one roof with Kottayam being their headquarters.
However, since 1970 they have been at war over the church's control.
Trouble has been simmering since 2017, when after decades of trial the apex court in its final verdict said there are no grounds for Jacobites to claim any of the churches of the Orthodox section.
On December 10, the situation turned serious after six women and three men reached the terrace of the St. Mary's Syrian Jacobite Church and threatened to jump down if the police tried to take control of their church in Piravom.
The police team were forced to leave.
Catholicos Baselios Thomas I, the supreme head of the Jacobite Church in Kerala, told the media on Thursday that talks should be held to end the stalemate.