The premises of a sixth-century church in Kerala’s Ernakulam district was the centre of protests on Thursday after the police arrested senior priests and parish members belonging to the Jacobite faction of Malankara Syrian Christian Church in order to force them to evacuate the area following a 2017 Supreme Court order, NDTV reported.

The court had allowed the Orthodox faction to take over the Piravom Valiyapalli church. The rivalry between the two factions goes back a century.

The police were forced to break open the church gate even as the protestors threatened to jump into a river in front of the church if they were removed forcefully. The police were directed by the High Court to remove the protestors from the church complex and submit a report by 1.45 pm, Mathrubhumi reported. As the police entered, the priests and the laity sat on the ground, The Indian Express reported. The Jacobites decided to court arrest and asked their parish members to do the same after District Collector S Suhas held talks with them.

“The police and the district administration may have their sympathies for us, but their hands are tied,” a member of the Jacobite faction told The Indian Express. “They want us to leave and court arrest. So we have agreed to do the same.”

All this while, members of the Orthodox faction sat on protest outside the church, waiting to enter the premises. They had arrived at the church on Wednesday to take possession following the High Court order.


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