War of words over ‘narcotics jihad’ rages on in Kerala
The war of words over Pala Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt’s ‘narcotics jihad’ jibe continues to rage in Kerala, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanding security for the religious head and the Congress alleging the issue will allow the Sangh Parivar a foothold in the state.
Congress has asked the government to convene a meeting of different community leaders before the issue escalates into a flashpoint with VD Satheesan alleging that the government was waiting for Sangh Parivar outfits to hijack the issue.
The BJP state unit has written to home minister Amit Shah to provide security to the Bishop. Party national spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said, “He has voiced a genuine concern prevailing in the community. It is the voice of the victims of ‘love jihad’ and narco- terrorism. The state government can’t remain in denial.”
Minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan, who hails from the state, also criticised the attack on the Bishop. “Narcotic jihad is not a new term. Even world bodies said proceed from narcotics was a major source of terror funding,” he said, alleging that a planned move to silence the Bishop was afoot.
Goa Governor Sreedharan Pillai also supported the religious head. “It seems the Bishop has aired his concern and no one needs to go beyond what he said. I hope CM Pinarayi Vijayan will talk to him and clear his concern,” said Pillai who enjoys a rapport with the heads of many Christian sects and was instrumental in the Centre’s move to broker peace between the warring sects of Jacobites and Orthodox Church last year.
Though the Nair Service Society (NSS), a socio-cultural wing of the Nair community, has supported the Bishop, it said the issue shouldn’t have been give a communal colour. “It is a fact that girls are being lured by love and converted subsequently...But it is not fair to attribute it to any religion,” said NSS in a statement, urging the government for an independent investigation into the Bishop’s charges.
Addressing a religious congregation in a church in Kuravilangad (Kottayam) last Thursday, Bishop Kallaranghatt said young Catholics were becoming victims of a ‘narcotic jihad’ perpetrated by a section of society.
Many, including chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Congress, have criticised the Bishop for making a sweeping statement, but the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, the highest body of Catholics in the state, has rallied behind him.