The Kerala government took over a church in Mulanthuruthy in the wee hours on Monday amid strong resistance by followers of the Jacobite church, as part of implementing a 2017 Supreme Court order granting possession of over 1,100 churches to the rival Orthodox faction, police said here.
Police entered the ancient Cathedral in Mulanthuruthy, armed with a recent Kerala High Court order directing to take over it on a contempt of court petition filed by the Orthodox vicar.
Hundreds of Jacobite church followers, led by their priests, had gathered inside and outside the church since Sunday night locking its gate from inside preventing the police from taking its custody. Police broke open the gate of the church using a cutter and forcefully removed the priests and followers before taking over its control.
Police entered the church wearing PPE kits to protect themselves from COVID-19 infection during the action to take over the Church. The Jacobite Church condemned the police action, alleging the administration “acted in haste to satisfy the needs of someone”.
Several priests and followers were injured in the police action, they alleged. Early this month, the Kerala High Court had directed the Ernakulam district Collector to take over the Mulanthuruthy church.
In his petition, the Orthodox faction priest had sought to initiate contempt proceedings against the Ernakulam Collector and others for not implementing the court’s earlier directive to hand over the administration of the church to the Orthodox faction.
The High Court had pointed out that despite the Supreme Court order and directives by the High Court, the petitioners were not in a position to function and discharge their duties. In 2017, the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of the Orthodox faction on a dispute with the rival Jacobite faction over control of over 1,100 churches.