Tension grips Kerala’s Ernakulam as protests mount over church control, Jacobite priests taken into custody

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Published: September 26, 2019 5:18:05 PM

The cathedral situated is at present controlled by the Jacobite faction.

kerala, kerala church protestArrests were made after the Kerala High Court came down hard at the Jacobite faction. (IE)

High drama ensued in Kerala’s Ernakulam district on Thursday after a group of protestors from the Jacobite faction disobeyed the High Court’s order to allow members of the Othodox faction to offer prayers at a church in the Piravom municipality. The rivalry between two faction dates back a century with both claiming ownership of the cathedral. The police had to intervene and arrest senior priests to bring the situation under control. Arrests were made after the Kerala High Court came down hard at the Jacobite faction, who had earlier locked the gates of the church in order to block the entry of the Orthodox faction to offer prayers.

The cathedral situated is at present controlled by the Jacobite faction. Earlier in July 2017, a Supreme Court had asked as many as 1,100 churches to be handed over to the Orthodox faction. However, the Jacobite faction continued to hold control of the church even after the order, and despite its pleas before the top court as well as the high court were dismissed. Most of the believers in Piravom belong to the Jacobite community. The rivalry between both faction dates back to 1912 when the Malankara Church split into two. Both groups had been fighting for the ownership of the church since decades.

On Thursday, while trying to bring things under control, police had to use cutters to open the gates as members of the Jacobite faction continued with their protests. As the gates were opened, priests and laity sat on the ground pledging not to leave the place. It was only after the intervention of authorities that they agreed to court arrest. Even as the priests courted arrest and were trooped inside a polevan, other protesters laid on the ground urging not to be forced to leave. Collector S Suhar, present at the site, asked them them to cooperate, promising to help them.

The police action came after the Kerala High Court earlier slammed the Jacobite faction for locking the gates of the church and not allowing priests and followers of rival orthodox faction to offer prayers.

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