KOTHAMANGALAM: he efforts by members of the Orthodox faction to enter St Thomas Church, Kothamangalam (Marthoma Cheriyapally), proved unsuccessful on Monday following stiff resistance from thousands of Jacobite faction members who camped inside the church premises and locked the gates from within.
Led by their nominated vicar Thomas Paul Ramban, around 100 Orthodox members marched to the church in the morning. But they left by 3pm, blaming the police for their lack of support in enforcing the Supreme Court order.
The Orthodox faction laid claim to the church following the Supreme Court order of July 2017, which states that control of Malankara churches in Kerala should be given to the Orthodox members.
Around 10.30 am, a group of priests, bishops and laity of the Orthodox faction, marched to the church under heavy police cover. Along with Ramban, bishops, including Geevarghese Mar Yulious of Metropolitan of Ahmedabad diocese, Yuhanon Mar Policarpus of Angamaly diocese and Thomas Mar Athanasius of Angamay diocese, were also present. However, they couldn’t enter the church as thousands of Jacobite members, who had occupied the church premises from early morning, denied them entry.
“We cannot give our church to around 100 people. Around 90 per cent of the families in the parish are Jacobites. They cannot snatch away our church like they have done earlier in other cases. There will be bloodshed if they forcefully enter the church. We are ready to risk our life for protecting our church and our faith,” said Jose Parambil, a Jacobite parishioner.
As the Orthodox faction members marched towards the church, police personnel in riot gear created a human shield around them.
“The Orthodox faction claims that the Munsif Court of Muvattupuzha has ordered the DGP to take charge for implementing the order. We are yet to see the order. We are here as per the directive of the District Collector to avoid a law and order situation. So far, we have not received any order to forcibly implement the SC,” said M T Anil Kumar, Revenue Divisional Officer.
Meanwhile, the police asked the Jacobite members to disperse on their own and allow the Orthodox faction to enter the church. However, they didn’t back out.
“We have no option but to return, as we did not get the required police protection. We will approach the High Court seeking to execute the SC order, said the Ramban.
In the wake of the tense situation, shops were closed, schools shut down and private buses stopped plying in Kothamangalam.
Kothamangalam Cheriyapally, where the hallowed tomb of Yeldo Mar Baselios Bava is located, is a sacred pilgrimage centre for Jacobites.
Turn Of Events
Around 10.30 am, a group of priests, bishops and laity of the Orthodox faction, marched to the church under heavy police cover.
However, they couldn’t enter the church as thousands of Jacobite members, who had occupied the church premises, denied them entry
Police asked the Jacobite members to disperse on their own and allow the Orthodox faction to enter the church. However, they didn’t back out.
Orthodox pin hopes on Piravom-like outcome
Kothamangalam: The Kerala High Court intervention in the Piravom Church dispute has led the Orthodox faction to re-enact the scenario at St Thomas Church (Marthoma Cheriyapalli) at Kothamangalam on Monday. However, the volatile situation that prevailed at the church and its premises on Monday forced them to beat a retreat. “The recent Muvattupuzha Munsif Court order had directed the Director-General of Police (DGP) to implement the SC order at Kothamanagalam Church. Based on that order, we attempted to enter the church. In the case of Piravom, the SC order was implemented by the police, following which the HC divisional bench ordered that protection be given for our faction to enter Piravom church. In Cheriyapalli too, we are looking forward to such a verdict from the HC,” said a source within the Orthodox faction.