A day after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed strong displeasure at the removal of a 'cross' at a church near Munnar during an anti-encroachment drive, Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekharan on Friday said the authorities followed all due process.
State Secretary of the CPI Kanam Rajendran also defended the action taken by the Revenue Department and told a Left Democratic Front (LDF) meeting here on Friday that a notice as per law was served to the group which installed the cross and it was after it refused to pull it down that the department took action.
E. Chandrasekharan, who handles the Revenue Department, belongs to the Communist Party of India (CPI) -- the second biggest constituent of the LDF.
The meeting also saw former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan supporting the action of the Revenue Department, saying that none should be allowed to violate the law of the land in the name of religion.
At the end of the meeting, the party decided to hold an all-party meeting to discuss the vexed issue of land encroachment and chalk out measures to address the menace.
Located on a hill top, the cross, which was put up by 'Spirit in Jesus' church, was pulled down early Thursday morning by revenue authorities using heavy equipment amid tight police security.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Mar George Alencherry condmened the manner in which the 'cross' was pulled down.
"We will never support of usurping of any land by anyone. What we opposed is the manner in which it was pulled down and we have expressed our reservation on this to the Chief Minister," said Alencherry, the supreme head of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Kerala.
"There was a disrespect shown to the cross and that pained us," said Archbishop M. Susaipakiam, the head of the Latin Church, here.
The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) also held a meeting here on Friday and criticised the manner in which the cross was pulled down.
"None is going to believe that the Chief Minister who is also the Home Minister was not aware that the 'cross' would be pulled down. If it was placed on usurped land, it could have been removed in a more decent manner," said UDF convenor P.P. Thankachan.
State BJP President Kummanam Rajasekharan told reporters in Delhi that Vijayan appears to be travelling with the usurpers and one has to find out if Vijayan has any links with this particular 'Spirit in Jesus' group.
He said they have already apprised Union Minister of Environment Anil Madhav Dave of widespread land encroachment in the picturesque hill station of Munnar.
Dave told reporters in Delhi that even though land is a state subject, environment is not and after a proper probe into the complaints that have been raised, action would be taken if the law is not being followed.