Kerala church forming Gabriel Sena raises eyebrows.

Representaive image. AFP

The decision of a church in Kerala to form a forum of ex-service and retired police personnel has raised many eyebrows especially since many churches have been facing stiff resistance over various issues like rape case against a Bishop, land scam allegation against a Cardinal and power tussle between two church factions over control of 1,100 odd churches.

The Archdiocese of Tellicherry (Thalassery) at Kannur district in North Kerala has initiated the formation of the forum, named Gabriel Army of Thalaserry.

While the move triggered concerns that the forum is being formed on the lines of Hanuman Sena and Ayyappa Dharma Sena, the church authorities maintained that the forum is being formed just for traffic and crowd management of a mass gathering of farmers of two North Kerala districts to be held at Kannur on December 9. The 100-odd member forum would cease to exist after the event, said the authorities.

Director of Tellicherry Archdiocese, Father Mathew Asariparambil told DH that the forum was just a voluntary group being formed for the North Malabar Farmers Agitation to be held on December 9 at Kannur. About one lakh farmers from Kannur and Kasargod would be coming down for the event which would also have the participation of prominent activists, representatives of all prominent political parties and social outfits. Just for the crowd and traffic management of the event, the forum was being formed. Ex-service and retired police personnel were preferred owing to their experience in these fields. The forum was named after angel Gabriel. Similar forums, like a medical forum comprising of doctors and nurses, were also being formed. All these forums would cease to exist after the event. It has no connection with any issues affecting the churches in Kerala, he said.

The decision to form the forum triggered concerns of setting a wrong trend as it came at a time when the churches in Kerala were facing stiff resistance from believers and public on various issues like rape case against former bishop of Jalandhar, Franco Mulakkal, land grab issue against Cardinal Mar George Alencherry and the power tussle between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church for control over churches. Even journalists were attacked by a group of believers while reporting the rape case against Franco Mulakkal.

Advocate Indulekha Joseph, a member of the Save Our Sisters collective that fought for the arrested of Franco Mulakkal, said that the formation of a collective of ex-service and retired police personnel by a church could have dubious intentions of suppressing the increasing protests against various wrongdoings of church leaders that were being exposed one by one. Ex-police officers could also have connections with serving police officers and it could be misused, she said.

Meanwhile, former Director-General of Police Alexander Jacob commented that it was not the name that matters, but what they do. If the church formed the forum with good intention, it need not be blamed as there were many such forums of churches that were engaged in doing good services.

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