Evangelical Christian groups have encroached upon the hills surrounding the Sabarimala Shrine and planted thousands of crosses in a bid to grab Forest land. The crosses have come upon on Panchalimedu or Panchali Hill, where it is believed that the five Pandava princes had visited. The Hill houses an ancient temple, which is being frequented by tribal communities and Sabarimala devotees.
Panchalimedu is considered to be part of the Poongavanam (garden) of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of Sabarimala. It is tourist spot with the visitor’s entry controlled by the entry pass issued by the local revenue department.
This new development is construed by the Hindu leaders as the blatant attempt to grab the revenue land. And, the Church enjoys massive support from both Congress-led Oppoistion UDF and the CPI(M)-led LDF. Although many Church groups are against such blatant land grab, the CPI(M) is providing all help to them. “The foreign funded evangelical groups fund these political parties for turning a blind eye to the land grab. Earlier when upright bureaucrats took action against land mafia who are using crosses as a cover, the state government intervened and transferred them,” said a Hindu Aikyavedi leader.
Last year when the young, dynamic civil service bureaucrats threw away the cross found in the revenue land, even though the Church leaders kept mom due to their fear for the legal actions, CM Pinarayi Vijayan blasted the bureaucrats. He said, by mutilating the cross the bureaucrats had crossed the limit and hurt the feelings of crores of Christians.