KOCHI: Despite several rounds of talks with the rival factions mediated by the District Collector, the Orthodox and Jacobite factions decided to go ahead with the fast by their supremos in Kolenchery to press their demands on the dispute over the ownership of Kolenchery St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church. The representatives of the Churches said that the talks which were mediated by the District Collector failed to make any headway. Hence, the fast will continue.
Meanwhile, additional police force were deployed on the church premises as a precautionary measure against any kind of violence.
The present trouble started with Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, the supremo of Orthodox Church, commencing a fast around 4 pm on Sunday demanding immediate execution of the court order which allows them the ownership of the church. Catholicos Baselios Thomas I followed suit demanding that status quo should be maintained till a final settlement is reached. Soon, believers belonging to the rival sides rallied behind the spiritual leaders. To prevent the situation from going out of control, the District Collector has imposed prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Indian Penal Code. ‘’The fast by Catholicos Baselius Mar Thoma Paulose II will go on until the authorities execute the court verdict which grants us the ownership of the church. The faithful from across the state will come to Kolenchery in the coming days, said P C Alias, public relations officer, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The Orthodox faction will observe a protest day in all the churches under it on Wednesday. A meeting of the managing committee of the Church to be held on Tuesday will decide the future course of action. The leaders of Jacobite Church also declared that the fast by Catholicos Baselios Thomas I will end only after the status quo is restored. They have called a hartal in Kolenchery on Tuesday from 9 am to 10 am. “We want to get the status quo restored. Until then, the fast by our Catholicos will go on,’’ said Thampu George Thukalan, secretary, Laity Commission, Jacobite Syrian Church.
Since 1998, the right to offer services in the church had been given to Orthodox and Jacobite churches on a 2:1 ratio respectively. While the Orthodox Church was given the right for two weeks, the Jacobite faction got the same for the next one week. The Jacobites want to restore the practice after a final settlement on the issue. As the court verdict came in August 2011, the Orthodox faction wanted to get the total ownership of the church.