The Kerala government on Wednesday decided to bring in an ordinance that permits the conduct of burial rituals of Jacobite parishoners in their family cemetry at the churches that are now under the control of the Orthodox faction of the Malankara church.
The government decided to take the ordinance route after all efforts to resolve the issue through discussions failed, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters. A decision in this regard was take at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning. "We had been taking all efforts to resolve the issue. Though we tried to hold discussions, one section refused to come for talks," Pinarayi Vijayan said, adding that the Kerala Governor, too, had made some efforts to resolve the vexed issue. But after all their attempts to find a solution failed, the government decided to bring in the ordinance, he said.
The relatives of the deceased have the right to conduct the funeral rites by a priest of their choice outside the church and then bring the body back to the place of worship for burial. The CM also said that every person has the right to be cremated in their family cemetry as per the ordinance.
While pointing out that the government was not taking an adamant stand on the issue, he said their only concern was to ensure speedy burial of the dead. There have been several instances when the issue turned emotive, and law and order problems cropped up, the Chief Minister noted.
He also said that there was nothing illegal in bringing out the ordinance and the government's only intention was to settle the matter as per law.
The two factions â€” Jacobite and Orthodox â€” have been at loggerheads for decades over the possession of church properties. After the 2017 Supreme Court verdict, over 1000 churches, hitherto held by the Jacobites, were ordered to be handed over to the Orthodox faction.
In several instances, the Orthodox faction had insisted that the burial of the body of the Jacobite faithful can be allowed in the cemetry provided their priest is permitted to conduct the last rites. This was, however, opposed by the Jacobite faction, saying that burial rites of their faithful has to be conducted by their priest.
Recently, the family of a 91-year-old woman in Alappuzha had to wait for over a month to conduct her funeral, which had got delayed due to the factional feud.