Police Deployed To Evacuate Kerala Church Return Amidst Suicide Threats

The police were trying to implement a Supreme Court verdict in a property dispute between two Christian factions.

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Police Deployed To Evacuate Kerala Church Return Amidst Suicide Threats

Police said they retreated after people began dousing themselves with fuel. (Representational)


Kochi: 

Sabarimala is not the only place the Kerala police is having trouble enforcing Supreme Court orders.

A riverside church in rural Ernakulam's Piravom was at the centre of a dramatic stand-off between police and a faction of Christians for nearly five hours on Monday. The police faced resistance while they were trying to execute a Supreme Court order requiring members of the Jacobite faction to vacate the premises in a dispute with the rival Orthodox church. Some even threatened to commit suicide if they were evacuated by force.

Rural Ernakulam Superintendent of Police Rahul Nair told NDTV that he is in possession of a court order that needs to be implemented, so the property can be handed over to the Orthodox church. "But we faced stiff resistance when we tried to implement the order today. Many believers, including women and children, launched prayer protests inside the church and locked it, blocking access to the police. At least six of them climbed up the terrace of the church and doused themselves with fuel," he said, adding that they withdrew because they did not want anybody committing suicide.

Sources said around 800 police personnel were posted along the banks of the river as a preventive measure, just in case protesters decide to jump into the river. Police boats were also deployed.  

The Supreme Court had ordered the Jacobite faction to hand over the church to Orthodox believers in 2017. Recent talks initiated by the district collector to transfer the property in a peaceful manner failed, and a petition seeking implementation of the verdict will come up for hearing in the Kerala High Court on Tuesday.

The High court then reprimanded the Pinarayi Vijayan government, questioning the logic behind its alleged "selective implementation" of court orders. "We see that in certain other instances, the state has implemented judgments strongly by deploying large numbers of police personnel and imposing local restrictions under the Code of Criminal Procedure," news website livelaw.in quoted the bench as saying. "The government seems to be implementing directions of courts selectively to suit its own interests."



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