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Two churches attacked in Kerala

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  • Chev. Thomas Daniel
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 21, 2008
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      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
      Kochi city.

      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
      calm.

      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
      in.

      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.

      Attack condemned

      The Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) has termed the attack on
      churches at Nedumbassery isolated acts of violence by anti-social
      elements.

      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
      disharmony.

      Source: www.thehindu.com www.manoramaonline.com www.deepika.com
      www.mangalam.com
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