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Last Updated Thursday April 27 2017 03:21 PM IST

Mystery of the vanishing cross in Munnar: 2 held, vehicle owned by Spirit in Jesus founder seized

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Mystery of the vanishing cross in Munnar: 2 held, vehicle owned by Spirit in Jesus founder seized  Mystery of the vanishing cross in Munnar: 2 held, vehicle owned by Spirit in Jesus founder seized Sibi and Raju

Munnar: Two people were arrested Saturday in connection with the erection and removal of a five-feet-tall wooden cross in government land at Pappathichola here, the police said.

It was put up at the same spot from where a 30-feet-tall metal Cross was removed Thursday as part of anti-eviction drive by revenue officials.

The police took into custody two persons who were seen in the area in suspicious circumstances Saturday morning and after questioning them, recorded their arrest. The arrested have been identified as Kalpatta native Raju and Rajakumari native Sibi.

A van registered in the name of Evangelist Tom Scaria, against whom a case had been registered for putting up the metal Cross, was also found near the disputed land.

Read: What is Spirit in Jesus? Why is it hooked to Pappathichola hill?

Vow by the cross: encroachments of all sort wrong, says Syro Malabar Church

CM Pinarayi slams eviction team for demolishing cross in Munnar

Sriram Venkitaraman RSS henchman, should be sent to an asylum: MM Mani

They do not have land or house in the area and are workers of the evangelist, the police said.

A case has been registered against them under various sections of IPC, including 447 (criminal trespass) and 353A (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty).

Denies encroaching on govt land

Meanwhile, four office-bearers of Spirit in Jesus claimed that they had not encroached the government land at Munnar and the property where the cross had erected was owned by a believer named Maria Soosa and she had applied for title deed for the area 1994 and 2004.

Not earth mover, will needed: Kanam

The CPI, a key partner of the ruling CPM-led LDF Saturday said a determined will was needed to remove all encroachments from Munnar, an ecologically sensitive area.

Party state secretary Kanam Rajendran said there was no need for earth movers to remove encroachments in Munnar, but a "powerful determination" would suffice.

The remark comes a day after chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan made it clear that earth movers should not be used in the region.

In Munnar, the Cross which was removed did not symbolize Christ's sacrifice, but it was a Cross symbolizing encroachment, Kanam said. The wooden Cross allegedly put up by encroachers pointed to the fact that they had challenged the government, he said.

Opposition leader in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala said Congress was against justifying encroachments using religious symbols.

But an earth mover should not have been used for removing the Cross, he said. He also questioned the government's sincerity in removing encroachers from its lands.

The chief minister and the government have the responsibility to protect government land from encroachers, he told reporters in Kannur.

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