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Above: St Mary’s Church In Piravom. Photo by: Captain/commons.wikimedia

The Kerala government has filed an affidavit  in the High Court seeking more time and “operational freedom”  to the police to implement the Supreme Court judgment in the Piravom Church case in which two section of followers are seeking control . The petition said it was seeking more time so that the SC order can be implemented “without causing collateral damage or unwarranted loss of human life.”

The  government, which showed an unseemly haste in implementing the SC order on the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala however has shown no such haste here and filed the affidavit in response to a petition filed by the vicar of St Mary’s Orthodox Church seeking a directive from the state police chief to provide adequate police protection to the church; its properties including chapel, cemetery; its vicar, priest and parishioners; and the petitioners. The petition also sought the provision for smooth conduct of religious services as well as the administration of the church.

On December 8, the Ernakulam District Collector convened a meeting of all stakeholders concerned to facilitate a peaceful handing over of the administration of the church by the  Jacobite faction to the Orthodox faction.

However, the move fell flat. When the police tried to implement the judgment on Monday, the Jacobite faction prevented it. Nearly 1,000 members of the Jacobite faction, including women and children, have been camping in the church since December 8 thwarting the police from implementing the judgment.

On the afternoon of December 10, police deployment was enforced to take control over the situation. Since the funeral of a member of the Jacobite faction was scheduled at 11.30am, it was decided to wait for the same to be over. Later, the church and its premises were cordoned off by the police. What followed was a defiance of the instructions of the police by the protesters. More than five members of the Jacobite faction climbed atop the church terrace and tower, doused themselves with inflammable fluids and threatened to immolate themselves. The appeals by the Fire and Rescue Services team and the police yielded no result.

After hours of tense situation, the police tactically withdrew to avoid any collateral damage or unwarranted loss of human life. Two cases were registered by the Piravom police against the members of
the Jacobite faction.

The state, in its submission, made it clear that it has no vested interests in the matter. The state will make every endeavour to implement the judgment of the Supreme Court.

 –India Legal Bureau

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