Kozhikode: With landslides and flashfloods devouring many eco-sensitive slopes across Western Ghats sending tremors across the farming community, the Catholic Laymen’s Association (CLA), a believers body fighting for the rights of laity, has demanded an apology from the clergy for misleading believers on Gadgil committee report and unleashing riots and arson in the name of farmers across the Malabar region.
The CLA hoped that the Synod of Syro-Malabar Church, that begins in Ernakulam on Monday, would discuss such deviation by the clergy from the spirit of Christ to that of Mammon.
Unlike other dioceses, the Thamarassery diocese headed by Bishop Remi-giose Inchananiyil led an agitation by farmers against the Kasturir-angan panel report which turned violent, ending in riots and arson at Thamarassery in December 2013. Many members of the laity had participated. The forest range office at Thamarassery was gutted by miscreants.
The police had registered as many as 42 cases against the agitators including priests at that time. A majority of the cases were withdrawn secretly, it is learned. However, a few cases are still pending.
Catholic Laymen’s Association secretary M.L. George alleged that the fire and fury of the bishop was not to save the sheep from agony, but to save his granite mines from the impact of Gadgil recommendations on conservation of Western Ghats, as the bishop himself had operated few granite mines run on the land of two churches. “Now it is clear to all that the agitation was hijacked by the mining lobby and the forest office was gutted to destroy the proof against them,” Mr George alleged, adding that even after various reports of officials on illegal mining by the church, the government was hesitant to take action.
The recurring fury of nature has scared believers with demands rising to put more attention to the voice of Gadgil, the CLA said. When DC contacted Thamarassery diocese chancellor Fr Abraham Kavilpurayidam enquiring if there was any shift in stance towards the Gadgil reports, he said, “No priest is involved and listed among the accused in the anti-Gadgil riots”.
The Wayanad unit of CLA said that though the Catholic Diocese of Mananthavadi had taken a serious stand over the Gadgil report and a panel with experts also was formed to submit a report on how the diocese should react to the report, it failed to publish it. The panel was unique with scientists from MS Swaminathan Foundation and farmers like Genome Savior award winner Cheruvayal Raman, as its members. According to Fr Thomas Joseph Therakam, who chaired the panel, due to some unprecedented circumstances the diocese failed to publish the report. “Going by the unprecedented fury of nature, it seems that we should have a relook on the whole approach towards environment,” he said.
However, another member of the panel who preferred to remain anonymous said that majority of the panel members supported the implementation of the Gadgil Committee reports citing the farmer friendly approach of the report. The Diocese was forced to keep the report under carpet as general mood of settler community across Malabar region was in favour of the war-cry given by Bishop Remigiose Inchanaiyil who had even warned of a ‘repetition of Jallianwalla Bagh’ if Gadgil reports were implemented....