September 22, 2021 4:42:43 am
In an apparent reference to Catholic bishop Joseph Kallarangatt’s controversial claim that “narcotics jihad” is spoiling the life of non-Muslims, particularly the youth, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said the trend to give religious colour to social evils should be nipped in the bud.
Vijayan also said forces using caste and religion as weapons of division should be opposed.
Inaugurating the centenary of a student agitation in erstwhile Travancore, Vijayan said: “Those who give leadership to social evils are elements engaging in illegal activities against the common interest of the society. Such activities should not be compared with any section in the society.”
He said, “Giving a face of virtuousness to militant movements will weaken social unity. Some people promote such movements as even synonymous with freedom. Such reactionary views endanger our freedom.”
Pala bishop Kallarangatt had recently claimed that various types of drugs are being used in places such as ice-cream parlours, hotels and juice corners run by “hardcore jihadis”, which are making the youth take to drugs. The statement drew sharp criticism from many quarters, even as the Church and the BJP, among others, had backed the bishop.
On Tuesday, Vijayan said, “Darkness cannot be wiped out by darkness. Only light can eliminate darkness. Similarly, hatred can be wiped out only by love. Forces that try to spread darkness of hatred should be singled out, (and) education is one of the most powerful ways to fight such regressive action.”
Vijayan said glorifying terror organisations, or equating them with symbols of freedom struggles, will weaken communal harmony in society and endanger freedom.
Later, addressing a party function online, Vijayan said the Centre recently told Lok Sabha that there is no “love jihad” in the country.
Referring to allegations of “narcotic jihad” brought by Kallarangatt, he said, “We are all worried about the spread of narcotics use. The government, as well as the society at large, has taken it very seriously. When we are taking comprehensive steps to prevent the spread of drugs, certain quarters have come up with the word ‘narcotic jihad’, which should not have been used under any circumstance.”
Stating that this assertion did not find much space in Kerala — “only a few may have stood with that campaign” — Vijayan said, “This is Kerala, the land of religious secularism. Nobody should think that the secular fabric (of the state) can be shattered. Any move against that would be sternly dealt with by our society.”
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