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Friday, September 24, 2021

‘Narcotics doesn’t have religious hues’: Kerala CM responds to Bishop’s ‘narcotic jihad’ remark

Bishop Kallarangatt had claimed that young men and women of the Christian community and other non-Muslim faiths were being targeted through means such as 'love jihad' and 'narcotic jihad’.

By: Express Web Desk | Kochi |
Updated: September 10, 2021 9:32:31 pm
Allegations and counter: Kerala CM and state Congress chief's political slugfestThe Chief Minister was responding to recent remarks by Syro-Malabar Church Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt during the latter's address to laity on the occasion of the eighth day of Lent of Mary at a church in Kuravilangad. (File Photo)

Days after a prominent Catholic bishop claimed the existence of an “organised narcotic jihad” targeting young non-Muslims, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stressed that the problem of narcotics doesn’t have “religious hues”.

Responding to a question on the issue at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram, Vijayan said, “I think it is the first time we are hearing of a term called narcotic jihad. The problem of narcotics doesn’t affect a particular religion. It affects all of society and as that, we have deep concerns about it and we are making all efforts to stop its spread. Legal means are being strengthened.”

“Narcotics doesn’t have religious hues. If it has any, it is of anti-social activity. No religion encourages (the use and sale of) drugs. That’s the position we should take.”

The Chief Minister was responding to recent remarks by Syro-Malabar Church Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt during the latter’s address to laity on the occasion of the eighth day of Lent of Mary at a church in Kuravilangad. Kallarangatt presides over the Palai diocese which has the largest concentration of Syro-Malabar Catholics in the state.

CM Vijayan said, “The context of the remarks of the Palai Bishop is not clear. But people in responsible positions, while handling such matters, must ensure there are no religious schisms in society.”

Bishop Kallarangatt had claimed that young men and women of the Christian community and other non-Muslim faiths were being targeted through means such as ‘love jihad’ and ‘narcotic jihad’.

“In a democratic country like ours, since it’s not easy to use weapons to destroy people of other faiths, jihadis are using means which are not easily identifiable. In the view of jihadis, non-Muslims are to be destroyed. When the objective is expansion of their religion and destruction of non-Muslims, the means they use are of different forms. Two of such widely-discussed means today are love jihad and narcotics jihad,” he had alleged.

“For objectives such as exploitation, forced religious conversion, making financial gains and employing in terrorist activities, jihadis are trapping women of other faiths through love or other means. As soon as women turn 18, they are being trapped through love, forcibly taken away without the consent of their parents and family members. They are often abandoned after a few years of marriage. Such incidents are rising. Fathima, who got converted and went to Afghanistan, was a Hindu woman named Nimisha. Sonia Sebastian, a Christian, similarly became Ayesha. These are just a few examples. How are Hindu and Christian women like them ending up in terrorist camps is a serious subject to be studied,” he had said.

The Bishop’s remarks were condemned by Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan as “crossing the line”.

“I humbly request all community and religious heads not to make any remarks or moves that would destroy the existing atmosphere of harmony and mutual trust between people in Kerala,” he said.

“Religious heads must show self-restraint. Unwanted display of opinions will only widen differences in society. We must face challenges together. For that, the spiritual leadership must show light, not spread darkness. Such controversies must end here.”

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