THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/KOCHI : The controversy over Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt’s ‘narcotic jihad’ remark took centre stage on Friday with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Opposition leader V D Satheesan urging religious and spiritual heads not to drive a wedge between people.
BJP state president K Surendran, meanwhile, said ‘narcotic jihad’, which the bishop said was being used to trap young non-Muslim girls, exists in the Kerala society, and the issue needs to be thoroughly investigated.
Stating that he was hearing about ‘narcotic jihad’ for the first time, the Chief Minister, in his evening press conference, said people sitting in responsible positions should be extremely careful while commenting on sensitive issues. They should ensure no division is created along religious and communal lines by their remarks, he said. “Drugs have no religion. It’s something that affects society as a whole, and it’s not something that affects a particular community or a group,” Pinarayi said.
Earlier, senior Congress leaders Satheesan and P T Thomas also strongly criticised the bishop, saying he crossed the limits. “Kindly don’t make any statements that would break the peaceful atmosphere and the trust that exist between the people in the state,” Satheesan said in the assembly.
“Religious leaders must exercise restraint and self-control. Unnecessary expressions of opinion will trigger animosity in society. Let us face the challenges together. Spiritual leadership should shed light on this, not spread darkness,” Satheesan said.
Surendran calls for detailed probe into bishop’s ‘narcotic jihad’ charges
In a separate post, MLA and state Congress working president P T Thomas said the statement by the bishop was not aimed at creating communal harmony. “Greed and financial profit are the main reasons behind any crime.
Criminals working together based on castereligious grounds are very rare in these modern times. The wedge that is being created by the statement (by the bishop) in society is very dangerous,” he said, adding that no one should try to ignite a rift between two communities who have been living peacefully at all times.
While Surendran called for a detailed probe into the ‘narcotic jihad’ allegations, BJP national executive committee member P K Krishnadas said the party could not let anyone attack the bishop, who said “the truth”. “Though the bishop raised a serious issue, the government and the chief minister were trying to cover the truth to protect the jihadis,” he said.
Meanwhile, supporting the Pala bishop, Irinjalakuda Bishop Pauly Kannookkadan called upon the people to be vigilant against ‘love jihad’ and ‘narcotic jihad’. Kottayam Taluk Mahal Muslim Coordination Committee has lodged a complaint against the Pala bishop with the Kottayam district police chief. It said the bishop’s statement was aimed at disturbing communal amity in society. The complaint asked the police to file a case against the bishop under 153-A of the Indian Penal Code.
Hindu Aikya Vedi supports Pala bishop
Kochi: Even as Pala diocese bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt is facing severe criticism from various corners for his statement on “Love Jihad” and “Narcotic Jihad”, Hindu Aikya Vedi on Friday supported the prelate saying ‘his statement was a reality.’ Hindu Aikya Vedi state general secretary R V Babu in a statement said that the bishop’s statement was a fact as there were certain reports on girls being trapped by making them drug addicts.
“People who don’t want to accept the reality are criticising the bishop. Nobody can question the bishop’s responsibility in sensitising the faithful to remain alert on such issues. The state government is trying to turn its face from statements by two former DGPs on terrorist networks in Kerala. Those who speak openly against terrorism are labelled Sanghis,” he added.
(With inputs from Kottayam)