Nation Other News 21 Apr 2017 Munnar evictions: Cr ...

Munnar evictions: Cross razed, acres taken

Published Apr 21, 2017, 1:22 am IST
Updated Apr 21, 2017, 7:25 am IST
The cross erected at Pappathichola medu in Chinnacanal being removed. 	–By Arrangement
 The cross erected at Pappathichola medu in Chinnacanal being removed. –By Arrangement

KOTTAYAM: The Munnar eviction drive touched off a fresh controversy on Thursday when the district officials, in full media glare, razed a cross put up by a self-styled evangelical group and recovered 30 acres at Pappathichola medu at Chinnakanal in high-range Idukki. The cross was set up by 'Spirit in Jesus', an outfit spurned by the Catholic Church,   over six months ago. Three sheds on the encroached land were burnt down. The eviction started at 7 a.m. and was over by 1 p.m but by then well-intentioned move had earned the wrath of the CPM and local Congress leaders. Kerala Catholic Bishops Council banned its activities in June last year, finding it hostile to the Bible and the Christian faith.

CPM district secretary K. K. Jayachandran was the first to denounce the administration’s action, calling the Revenue move a “rowdy act”. In the evening at a public meeting oin Kottayam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed his displeasure with the administration’s misstep, though part of a renewed operation to rid the high ranges of encroachers. He said caution had been given the go-by and there was no need to pull down the cross (a sacred symbol).  “Hanging a government board after the takeover would have served the purpose”, he said. Mr Vijayan said he reserved further comments. It is learnt both the collector and sub-collector are in Thiruvananathapuram on Friday at attend a discussion on Munnar. Sources say the operation was on the basis of a communication sent by Revenue Minister  E.Chandrasekaran's office. Mr Toms Scaria, head of the group, is abroad.

The group believes that the sins of the parents and forefathers visit them and cause diseases and failures in life. The group claims the support of many followers, especially in the Devikulam region. The eviction followed a report by the Chinnakanal village officer, blaming the “prayer group”, allegedly commandeered by controversial elements, for encroachment. The Udumbanchola deputy tahsildar had a week ago issued an eviction notice to the encroachers. Udumbanchola deputy tahsildar M.J. Shaji and his 15-member team led the operation. Devikulam tahsildar P.K. Shaji was the executive magistrate. 70 police personnel from the Kerala Armed Police and another 30 from Santhanpara and Devikulam police stations stood vigil. Officials removed a van, which blocked the road to Pappathichola medu. Santhanpara police registered a case against K.O. Porinchu, the owner of the vehicle, for disrupting the duty of the officials. “We have directed the Santhanpara police to register a case against the office-bearers of ‘Spirit in Jesus’ for encroaching on revenue land,” Mr Shaji told DC.  The Idukki district collector’s section 144 ban order was withdrawn after the process was completed.

Location: India, Kerala


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