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Prayer Group Leader Faces Music for Setting up Cross on Govt Land

Munnar: Police have charged a case against the founder of Thrissur-based Spirit in Jesus prayer group, Tom Zachariah, for installing holy cross by encroaching Revenue land at Pappathichola here.

Santhanpara police have charged him with trespassing on government land and encroachment. A case also has been registered against Mannuthy native Porinchu for hindering Revenue officials who arrived for evicting land grabs. Both the accused are at large, police said.

Earlier, Udumbanchola Additional Tahasildar M.K. Shaji had demanded that a case has to be registered against Tom Zachariah as per Land Conservation Act. Following this, the police charged a case against him.

A team of Revenue officials led by Devikulam Tahasildar had demolished the holy cross and temporary shelters built on the encroached land by Spirit in Jesus at Pappathichola yesterday. Officials removed the cross and burned three sheds after demolishing them. Emergency order was declared at Pappathichola during the eviction process.

Spirit in Jesus Ministry is based at Kuriyachira in Thrissur. The chairman of the organization claims that he had a revelation from Jesus Christ 24 years ago. Though the followers worship holy cross, their customs are extremely different from devotees of other Christian groups.

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, the organization denied any wrongdoings. They also rebuffed media reports against them.

The FB post says: The land where the cross is erected belongs to Marian, a resident in Pappathichola. His family from the time of his grandfather has been keeping the particular piece of land under possession. A wooden cross was erected in that property about 50 years ago and was replaced by a concrete one in due course. This was reinforced with a metal structure not very long. People used to climb that mountain for prayers for a long time. It was recently that this old cross was replaced with a new metal one as the old cross, started to show signs of wear and tear.

The FB post adds: Marian has applied for ‘pattayam’ for this piece of land in 1994. He is one among the 3000 applicants for pattayam in survey 34/1 of Chinnakanal Village. For the eviction notice issued by Tahsildar, Marian has replied back mentioning these matters and he has not replied for that yet.