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Man held for 'forging' documents against Church head

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: May 21, 2019  | 18:13 IST

Kochi, May 21 (PTI) A 24-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly forging documents against Syro-Malabar Church head Cardinal George Alencherry, following which a row has erupted in Kerala's influential Catholic Church with a section of priests protesting against the arrest. Three bishops of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese have come out openly against the arrest of Adithya Valavi, who is a post-graduate from an IIT, claiming that he is not a criminal and he had no role in forging documents. The priests have claimed that the man, a faithful, while working as an intern with a reputed business group in Kochi, had taken a screenshot of documents allegedly having Alencherry's name from the computer server of the firm and brought it to the notice of a church priest he knew. The priest reportedly shared it with another priest, who allegedly submitted it to a Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church. The priests, including auxiliary bishops of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, have demanded a high-level probe into the forgery case. They alleged that the man, who was taken into custody by police last week, was tortured and forced to make statements against other priests in connection with the case. His arrest was recorded on Sunday. Police have said the documents, purportedly linking the Syro-Malabar church head with the accounts of a private bank, were found to be forged during their investigation. According to them, the cardinal was found not operating any account in the bank named in the documents. Alleging that Adithya was subjected to torture in custody, the priests, including Bishop Jacob Manathodath, who was appointed as the administrator of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese by Pope Francis last year, have urged the government to order either a CBI or a judicial probe into the case. Adithya's father Zachariah alleged that his son was physically and mentally tortured by the police in custody. Adithya was also forced to make a statement against Father Tony Kallookaran, vicar of Muringoor Sanjoe Nagar church, he alleged. Meanwhile, the police made Father Kallookaran also an accused in the case on Tuesday. Bishop Sebastian Adayanthrath and Bishop Jose Puthenveettil had also joined Manathodath at a press conference held on Monday evening to raise the demand. Refuting the allegations of torture in custody, the police said they were carrying out a "scientific probe" into the case. The issue of controversial land deals involving top priests of the Syro-Malabar Church has been in the news for quite some time. The Syro-Malabar Church has over 30 dioceses in the country and four outside -- in the US, Canada, Australia and Britain -- serving over five million faithful. PTI TGB BN RC

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