KOCHI: At least seven persons, including the Kothamangalam SI and a priest, were seriously injured in a clash between members of the Orthodox and Jacobite factions at St Thomas Church in the town on Thursday. According to sources, members of the Orthodox faction arrived at the church when the Jacobites were taking away the relics of St Yeldo Mar Baselios (Kothamangalam Bava), whose mortal remains are interred in the church, and tried to prevent them.
The Orthodox faction alleged that the Jacobites attacked their priests and police officials present on the scene. Fr Thomas Paul Ramban, vicar of the Orthodox faction, Fr Jais Kuirakose, priest of Angamaly diocese, Fr Eldhose Thamarapally, secretary of Angamaly diocese, James Kattakanal, church trustee, and Sabu Mallayil, church secretary, were attacked by the Jacobites.
“The standoff between both the factions, which had lasted for half an hour, started as soon as the car carrying the ramban and priests reached the church gate. The Jacobite faction members attacked the car and broke its glasses. The ramban and priests were also attacked and injured. The police who tried to prevent the clash were also attacked,” said a source belonging to the Orthodox faction.
According to Kothamangalam SI T Dileesh, a group of people prevented the entry of Orthodox faction members into the church, triggering a clash. “I also suffered serious injuries and is presently at Government Hospital, Kothamangalam,” said Dileesh. The six other injured, including Fr Jais, have been taken to the Kolenchery medical college hospital, the SI said. The police had not registered a case till this report went to print.
However, Kuriakose Mar Theophilose, metropolitan and spokesperson of the Jacobite Syrian Church, said, “Our members had only taken a small portion of the relics to install it at their chapel at Chakkalakudi (near Kothamangalam), where the saint had first landed. There was no intention to cause any violence from our faction,” he said.
Fr Johns Abraham Konat, official spokesperson of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, said that Fr Thomas Paul Ramban, who is the vicar of the church as per the law, had approached the revenue officials and police and informed them about the move by the Jacobites to transfer the sacred relics from the church but no action was taken by the authorities to prevent it.
“The Jacobites’ move to transfer the relics to their chapel at Chakkalakudi is condemnable. They have no right to demolish the tomb and transfer the relics,” said Fr Konat.