Orthodox-Jacobite dispute turns ugly again in Kerala

Kerala has been witnessing frequent clashes between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions over rights of churches. The state government and police used to maintain a neutral stand on the sensitive matter. (Screengrab. Courtesy Mathrubhumi News)

The long-pending dispute between the Orthodox and Jacobite churches in Kerala again turned ugly with members, including priests, of the two factions clashing at Thrissur district on Thursday night.

Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church's Thrissur diocese Yuhanon Mar Meletius also suffered minor injuries in the melee. He is also likely to be arraigned in a police case in this connection.

Kerala has been witnessing frequent clashes between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions over rights of churches. The state government and police used to maintain a neutral stand on the sensitive matter.

The fresh clashes took place at the St. Mary's Church at Mannamangalam in Thrissur district. A section of Orthodox faction was staging a demonstration in front of the St Marty's Church since last Wednesday demanding that a Supreme Court order in their favour over the church should be implemented.

The Jacobite faction alleged that members of the Orthodox faction barged into the church by breaking the lock of the gate by around 11 p.m. on Thursday and damaged the properties. But the Orthodox faction maintained that the clashes broke out after stones were pelted at them by the Jacobite faction members.

Several believers and priests suffered minor injuries in the clashes and many window panes and furniture of the church were damaged.  A police party that rushed to the spot brought the situations under control. About 30 persons, including, priests were taken into custody from the spot. Several persons, including the Metropolitan, were admitted to nearby hospitals with minor injuries. Both the factions lodged separate police complaints, on the basis of which the cases were initiated.

The police registered cases against about 120 persons, including believers and priests of both the factions, in this connection. Metropolitan Yuhanon Mar Meletius is also likely to be arraigned.

The local police said that the CCTV visuals and other evidence were being verified to determine who all were directly involved in the clashes. Based on that they would be arraigned. A heavy police bandobast was made at the church following the clashes. The police and district administration was also holding talks between the two factions.

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