IN WHAT will add fire to the raging controversy over claims of “love jihad” and “narcotic jihad” targeting the youth of Kerala, the ruling CPM has now cautioned its cadres about attempts being made on campus of professional colleges to “lure” educated young women to extremism.
The CPM flagged the issue in a pamphlet distributed to speakers at meetings of its branch and local-level committees which began on Thursday, cautioning against Islamist extremist outfits, “support for the Taliban”, and the “trend of communal influence” among Christians. The note said: “At professional college campuses, there are deliberate bids to distract educated young women to extremism and fundamentalism. The student fronts and the youth front should pay special attention to this issue.”
As the Congress and BJP both seized on the note to attack the CPM, party state secretary A Vijayaraghavan defended it, saying communalism could come in many forms. “Communalism will operate in many ways. It does not have any framework. It will work in many disguises, at various places. Our party will fiercely fight against communalism,’’ he said.
The CPM note said the activities of the RSS have created insecurity among minorities, and that Muslim extremist outfits are trying to infiltrate community organisations and foment trouble. “It should be seriously viewed that discussions supporting the Taliban are emerging in Kerala, contrary to the stand adopted by a majority of the Muslim communities across the world.”
About the Christian community, the note said, “Normally, Christians are not found succumbing to communal thought. However, the recent trend of communal influence among a small section of the Christians should be viewed seriously. There are deliberate attempts to drive the Christian segment against the Muslims. It should be addressed seriously and should be checked. Such approaches will ultimately benefit majoritarian fundamentalism.”
With Kerala having a long history of bloody political violence between CPM and RSS cadres, the CPM note added: “We should realise that unnecessary political violence would alienate the masses from the party. A stand against political violence is necessary to bring more people to the party fold.”
On Friday, CPM leader and state cooperation minister V N Vasavan visited Catholic Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, who had talked of “love jihad” and “narcotic jihad” aimed at youth of the state, specifically non-Muslim women on campuses. The first member of the Pinarayi Vijayan to visit the Bishop since his remarks, Vasavan later said the controversy was a closed chapter.
“The Bishop is an erudite person, he has in-depth knowledge of the Quran and Bhagavad Gita. I have watched his speeches and shared dais with him. Congress and BJP leaders visited the Bishop with ulterior motives. I came for a friendly visit,” Vasavan said.
While both the CPM and the opposition Congress had criticised the Bishop’s remarks, the BJP had supported him, saying what he had said was a reality.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of India laity council secretary, Advocate V C Sebastian, welcomed the CPM’s party note, saying it “attests what Bishop Kallarangatt had stated about extremism”.
The Congress asked the CPM to give proof for its “serious” allegation. “The CPM leadership should reveal whether any cases had been registered in this regard or whether they have any data to prove their charges. The party and its government have the moral responsibility to reveal this,” V D Satheesan said.
BJP state president K Surendran said: “The CPM leaflet on minority and terrorism attests what the BJP has been saying for at least a decade. Young women have been trapped in love jihad and used for extremism. Why is the CPM not ready to openly admit that, at least now? When Pala Bishop spoke about it too, the CPM denied it. It shows the party’s double standards.”
It has been the Sangh Parivar’s long-standing claim that Kerala is emerging as a recruitment hub for terrorism.
Incidentally, senior BJP leader and former state president C K Padmanabhan on Friday said the Bishop’s remarks should not be taken seriously, nor should fundamentalism be attached to a religion. “During a sermon at church, the word jihad was added. I don’t find anything else serious regarding that statement. It is not appropriate to foist such things on a particular religion,’’ he said.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of India said it had warned several times about the presence of extremist outfits on campuses. “Now, the UDF (led by the Congress) and other parties are bound to make clear their stand on the issue after abandoning their communal appeasement tactics.”