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Jacobite Faction Prevents Orthodox Priests, Followers from Entering Church in Kerala

The Orthodox faction priests and followers withdrew from the scene after their hours-long stand-off with Jacobite faction in front of the church. They accused the police of failing to provide them security.

PTI

Updated:October 28, 2019, 5:38 PM IST
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Jacobite Faction Prevents Orthodox Priests, Followers from Entering Church in Kerala
Representative image.

Kochi: The authorities on Monday failed to implement a court order directing to facilitate entry of Orthodox faction priests and followers into a church in Kothamangalam to offer prayers following strong resistance from Jacobite faction priests and faithful.

The Orthodox faction priests and followers withdrew from the scene after their hours-long stand-off with Jacobite faction in front of the church. They accused the police of failing to provide them security.

Gates of the church were closed from inside by the priests and followers of the Jacobite faction when the Orthodox faction priests reached the church, known as Kothamangalam Cheriyapalli, armed with a court order directing the police to provide protection to their priests to conduct religious services in the church.

Even though the Supreme Court had nearly two years ago allowed the Orthodox faction to offer prayers at the church, members belonging to the rival faction allegedly prevented them from entering it.

The Orthodox faction reached the church to take its possession after a court in Muvattupuzha directed the police to provide protection to their priests to conduct religious services in the church.

Amid high drama, the district administration declared the assembly of the Jacobite faction inside the church and the church premises as "illegal" and urged them to leave the place.

However, the Jacobite priests and followers continued to remain in the church and its premises, forcing the Orthodox faction priests to wait outside.

"We hope that the authorities will take steps to implement the Apex Court order granting ownership of the Church to the Orthodox faction," an Orthodox priest said as they abandoned their Monday's plan to take the control of the church.

Hundreds of people belonging to the Jacobite faction were camping in the church, considered to be a major pilgrim centre of Jacobite Church followers, preventing the implementation of the apex court's verdict when the Orthodox faction priests reached there to enter the place of worship.

Slogans were raised against the Orthodox faction to enter the Church located in Kothamangalam, a Jacobite stronghold in Kerala. A large number of police forces were deployed in the premises.

Orthodox faction priests said the Supreme Court order should be implemented. The Orthodox faction had moved the court after the state government failed to implement the top court order.

Last month, priests and followers of Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church had entered the Piravom Valiyapalli near here and took its possession amid strong protests by the Jacobite faction members.

The Orthodox faction could enter the church following a High Court directive to the state police to implement the Supreme Court order.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Orthodox faction on a dispute with rival Jacobite faction over control of over 1,000 churches and properties in Kerala.

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