Kerala church row: BSF jawan’s body not allowed inside St Mary’s Church, funeral turns chaotic

Benoy Abraham, hailing from Piravom of Ernakulam district, had died on Saturday in an accident in Rajasthan.
Kerala church row: BSF jawan’s body not allowed inside St Mary’s Church, funeral turns chaotic
Kerala church row: BSF jawan’s body not allowed inside St Mary’s Church, funeral turns chaotic
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The family of a jawan who died recently found themselves in the midst of the row between Orthodox-Jacobite factions in Kerala. The funeral of Benoy Abraham, a BSF jawan who died in an accident in Rajasthan, was held in Ernakulam on Monday, but turned messy due to the ongoing row between the two factions. 

The jawan, hailing from Piravom of Ernakulam district in Kerala, died on Saturday in Rajasthan after the truck he was travelling in hit a private bus.

The funeral rites witnessed chaotic scenes as relatives of the jawan, who belong to Jacobite faction, tried to take his body inside the St Mary’s Church in Piravom. The church is at present under the control of Orthodox faction of the Malankara Church following a Supreme Court order. Though the family had permission to bury him in the St Mary's church cemetry, Jacobites are not allowed to do funeral rites in the church. The police personnel posted at the church asked the family to leave as chaos ensued. Later, the jawan's wife pleaded with the police that they let his body be kept inside the church for a few minutes. The police allowed the family to do this and the funeral rites were eventually held in another church of the Jacobite faction. Benoy Abraham's body was later buried in the St Mary’s Church cemetry.

“As per the Supreme Court order, St Mary’s Church, which was earlier under the aegis of Jacobites is now under the Orthodox faction’s control. The funeral rites of the jawan were held in another church on Monday. But as per the request of the jawan’s family through police mediation, the priest of St Mary’s Church agreed to bury his body at the church’s cemetery. But things went out of control as the Jacobite faction forcibly tried to carry the body inside St Mary’s Church,” an official at Piravom police station told TNM.

This isn't the first time that a family belonging to the Jacobite faction has been stopped from entering the St Mary's church for conducting funeral rites and other rituals. In many cases, dead bodies were stored for days as the deadlock between the two churches continued.

According to the police, no ceremony can be conducted inside the church without the permission of the priest. “It was because of police intervention that the situation did not escalate further. Those who forcibly entered the church were made to move out by the police. Since the jawan’s wife requested us again that they wish the body to be taken once inside the church, we again mediated with Orthodox faction and took the body inside the church for a few minutes,” the official said.

Police also told TNM that unlike some media reports, they did not try to stop the funeral rites of the jawan in any way. 


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