Two churches attacked in Kerala
- Two churches attacked in Kerala
ANGAMALY (Kerala): Two churches, one of them among the oldest in
India, were vandalised by unidentified people in the early hours of
Sunday at Akapparambu in Nedumbassery panchayat, about 35 km from
A seven-foot statue of Christ in the cemetery of the 467-year-old
Garvasis and Prothasis Church, belonging to the Syro-Malabar Church,
was broken and knocked off its pedestal. Next door, at the Mor Sabore
Afroth Jacobite Syrian Cathedral Church, the glass windows of a
chamber that houses the sandalwood cot used by St. Paulose Mor
Athanasius were smashed. The cathedral, said to have been built in
825 A.D., is one of the ancient churches of the Jacobites.
Fr. Paulose Arackaparambil, vicar at the cathedral church, toldnthat
the glass windows must have been smashed between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
As soon as a church employee informed him of the incident, he
reported it to the police and they arrived soon. At the Catholic
church, the destruction of the statue was noticed by early
worshippers and church staff.
While the police and church authorities suspect a deliberate attempt
to instigate communal ire, Nedumbassery and nearby panchayats, which
are home to scores of churches of various denominations, remained
Coming in the wake of the violence against Christians in Orissa and
attacks on churches in Karnataka, the Akapparambu attacks
immediately raised concern across Kerala, but no related incident
was reported from anywhere.
Church leaders played down the incident, saying it could be an
isolated attack, while the authorities set up a special team to
investigate the sacrilege.
In few hours after the incident, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan
and Fisheries Minister S. Sarma visited the two churches that stand
on adjoining compounds and spoke to the church functionaries and lay
people. Senior police officers, heads of government agencies, top
functionaries of political parties and religious leaders also rushed
The working committee of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church has
protested against the attack on the Jacobite Church, Akapparambu. The
State government must take action against those involved, the
committee said and called upon the people to maintain calm.
The police have set up a special investigation team to nab those
behind the vandalism of two churches at Akapparambu at Nedumbassery
grama panchayat on Sunday morning. Aluva Deputy Superintendent of
Police P.N. Unniraja is heading the team. The police are probing
various angles, including religious extremist groups. Inspector-
General of Police (Ernakulam range) Vinson Paul and Ernakulam Rural
SP P. Vijayan visited the churches within a few hours of the attack.
Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who visited the churches around
noon, said the government would take all efforts to nab the
culprits. "We will not allow any force to upset the communal harmony
of the State," he said.
In the evening, an all-party, all-community peace rally was taken out
in Nedumbassery. Senior functionaries of the Syro-Malabar Church and
Jacobite Church, leaders of Hindu and Muslim organisations as well as
politicians took part in the rally. The Jacobite Church's Catholicos
Baselios Thomas I and the Syro-Malabar Church's Bishop Thomas
Chakiath led the rally along with Fisheries Minister S. Sarma and
United Democratic Front (UDF) convener P.P. Thankachan. P.C. Thomas
and Lonappan Nambadan, MPs; the former Minister T.U. Kuruvilla; and
Collector M. Beena were also present.
Mr. Sarma was the first government leader to arrive at the church. He
held meetings with church functionaries and the police. At a meeting
held at the Mar Sabore Afroth Cathedral church hall, Mr. Sarma called
upon the people to be vigilant against any move to upset communal
harmony. The vicars of the two churches told the meeting that the
vandals could have struck between midnight and 5 a.m.
It was the cleaning employee at the cathedral who first noticed that
the holy chamber in which the sandalwood cot of St. Paulose Mar
Athanasius Valiya Thirumentni was kept was damaged.
The five window glasses of the chamber, which is located adjacent to
the `madbaha' (altar), were smashed, though the palanquin kept
outside the chamber was left untouched. A Christ statue in the
cemetery of the St. Gervasis and Prothasis Church has been damaged.
The Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) has termed the attack on
churches at Nedumbassery isolated acts of violence by anti-social
A spokesman for the KCBC condemned the attacks and described them as
unbecoming of people of India.
"These attacks do not suit the great culture of our country and the
great religious harmony in Kerala," said the spokesman.
He said that the church did not see in these incidents a continuation
of the violence against Christians in Orissa and Karnataka.
"These isolated acts are carried out by those trying to take
advantage of the particular situation," he added.
The UDF condemned the attacks on the churches. Convener P.P.
Thankachan said in a statement here that the attacks were carried out
by forces bent on creating communal disharmony.
State general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party A.N.
Radhakrishnan condemned the attacks. A statement from Mr.
Radhakrishnan said that the incidents were aimed at creating
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