A village officer has ordered the demolition and removal of crosses planted by a Christian Church on the hills of Panchalimedu in Idukki district by Monday, reports Janam TV. The encroached lands are part of the ‘sacred forests’ associated with the Sabarimala temple, known as ‘Poonkavanam’ in Kerala.
It was earlier reported that the sacred forests of Panchalimedu have seen massive encroachment by the church allegedly with the support of the communist government of Kerala. The Church has allegedly resorted to its usual strategy to seize government and forestland by occupying it with support of the state.
Yesterday a Hindu activist, Pratheesh Vishwanath, took to social media to share a video of how the numerous crosses were placed on the hills of Panchalimedu. He accused the government of supporting the activities of the Church. The full video with audio can be watched here.
Lasr day Visited Panchalimedu whr missionaries has encroached and placed crosses.
It is a place whr Pandavas came and settled. Sabarimala devotees use to take Darshan of Makara Jyothi frm here.
Wont let conversion mafia to encroach our forest & land. Starting our fight frm here pic.twitter.com/RS6IablzAD
— Pratheesh Viswanath (@pratheesh_Hind) June 15, 2019
Panchalimedu, a sacred place for local Hindus named after Panchali/Draupadi, is believed to be a place inhabited by Pandavas during the 12 years of exile. An ancient Bhuvaneswari temple, under the Travancore Devaswom Board, is also situated nearby the encroached land.
On the day of Makar Sankranti devotees of Ayyappa set camp on the hill of Panchalimedu to witness the Makaravilakku (holy flame) that appears on the Ponnambalamedu hill near the Sabarimala temple.
Currently, as reported by Janmabhumi, one could find crosses planted for over kilometres on this very sacred land. The Church has already established boards and an arch in the forest area claiming it as a Christian pilgrimage centre.
The strategy of grabbing land by planting crosses is not new, Christian organizations have, in the past decades, attempted to grab Sabarimala lands in Nilakkal by claiming that they had unearthed a stone cross established by Jesus’ apostle Saint Thomas in 57 A.D. In 2017, a Christian evangelical group based out of Thrissur attempted to grab land in a similar manner in Munnar.