KOCHI —(IANS) Widow of a murdered Malankara Varghese, allegedly a victim of a bitter feud between two Kerala church factions, Sunday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to unravel the conspiracy behind her husband’s death as many more “higher ups” may be involved.
“I am considering approaching the court to request the CBI to thoroughly probe the case because this cannot be just a conspiracy of one priest,” Saramma Varghese, wife of Malankara Orthodox Church Managing Committee Member Malankara Varghese found dead in December 2002, told a TV channel here.
The CBI probe has accused 19 people in the murder case and said it was possibly due to the long standing feud between the Malankara Orthodox Church, headquartered in Kottayam, and the Syrian Jacobite Church, based out of Ernakulam district.
Varghese Thekekara, manager of the Angamali diocese of the Syrian Jacobite church, was on Friday named the first accused in the murder. The priest is absconding.
Initially, the murder of Varghese was considered as a fallout of business rivalry. A five-year probe by the state police’s crime branch yielded nothing conclusive till CBI took over the probe in September 2007.
Breakthrough came last month, when the CBI arrested Joy Varghese alias Cement Joy who confessed to have hired criminals to commit the murder for a large sum of money.
Saramma said it was difficult to believe that this was a conspiracy of just one person. “This (murder) could not have taken place without the help of higher ups, may be even a bishop. So far, we are happy with the CBI probe but we want the entire conspiracy to come out,” she said.
The century-old feud between the two churches has always been a bother for successive governments in the state and on several occasions, rivalry between the followers have ended in brawls.
Incidentally, the two churches have the support of the top Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) politicians. While leader of opposition Oommen Chandy belongs to the Orthodox faction, UDF convenor P P Thankachen and Kerala Congress (Jacob) chief T M Jacob belong to the Jacobite faction.
India Abroad News Service (IANS) story sent in by Liju Cherian, Muscat