An evangelist has been booked in connection with the erection of a 30-feet tall metal cross, allegedly in government land here which was later removed by revenue officials. A case has been registered against Tom Scaria, an evangelist of the 'Spirit Of Jesus', under section 447 (criminal trespass) of the IPC and under provisions of Land Conservancy Act at the Shantapara Police Station here, police said today. The FIR was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by the Additional Tahsildar of Udambanchola. The cross, set up under the garb of 'spiritual tourism' atop a hilly area, was brought down with the help of earth movers yesterday. It was set up on a 30-acre piece of land allegedly encroached by a group of people calling itself 'Spirit of Jesus,' officials said. The Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference (KCBC) had in June 2001 banned Scaria from conducting retreats or other programmes in parishes and had also cautioned catholics in the state from attending such revival meetings. Meanwhile, the BJP today slammed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, for expressing "displeasure" over the removal of the cross from the "encroached" land. BJP state chief Kummanam Rajasekharan told reporters that the controversy over removal of the cross was "unfortunate." Expressing his displeasure over removal of the cross, the Chief Minister had reportedly asked, "What was wrong with that cross-symbol of a major section's belief? While acting against such a symbol, officers should have consulted the government." He said, the government viewed the matter "very seriously". Kummanam wondered why Vijayan is now taking a soft stand over removal of the cross as he had earlier denounced a Sunni sect's move to build a mosque.
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