Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: In a move that is widely perceived as a step to woo the Christian community in Kerala, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself as come forward in peacemaker role to settle a long contested dispute between Jacobite and Orthodox factions.
In continuation of the talks, he had with representatives of the orthodox church in Kerala a day earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday listened to officials of the Jacobite church at the PMO in Delhi.
Mizoram Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai, who helped organise the meeting with the Prime Minister, is reported to have been directed by Modi to mediate between the orthodox and Jacobite factions of the Kerala Malankara Church and ensure an amicable solution to the issues that are a bone of contention between the opposing sides.
The Jacobite faction leaders complained to the Prime minister that the orthodox church officials were on a takeover spree of churches controlled by the former and urged for his intervention.
The Jacobite faction leaders also told Modi that they were in a majority in several areas in Kerala but their rights have been compromised by the orthodox church. They urged the Prime minister to help settle the contentious issues between the factions.
The leaders later told the media that the Prime minister had directed Pillai to take the discussions forward and help the two sides reach an amicable settlement.
The Jacobite faction leaders said that they met with the Prime minister to petition him not to implement a Supreme Court order in favour of the orthodox faction.
The orthodox and Jacobite factions are engaged in a bitter battle for the control of properties, including churches and other institutions, in Kerala.
A Supreme court verdict on July 3, 2017 had given the orthodox faction of the Kerala Malankara Church the right to all the properties, including churches, parishes, and institutions.
A review petition filed by the Jacobite faction on November 18, 2017 was dismissed by the court, thus giving the orthodox faction the right over properties, including 1,100 churches and parishes.
The apex court's earlier verdicts in 1958 and 1995 had also gone in favour of the orthodox church faction.
It is in this background that Pillai had taken the initiative and arranged a meeting of the Prime minister with both the factions.
Meanwhile, Pillai hosted a lunch for both Jacobite and orthodox church representatives at the Mizoram Bhavan in New Delhi. The leaders of the two factions, who do not see eye to eye, participated in the lunch meeting.
Pillai told IANS on phone: "I am trying to settle this issue. Inviting someone for lunch is not part of this initiative. But, of course, I am happy that both the faction leaders participated in the luncheon meeting and it makes some sense in the scheme of things."