CM Vijayan asks Pala bishop to rectify remark

Pinarayi warns of action against divisive rhetoric, debunks narcotic and love jihad theories

Updated - September 23, 2021 04:56 am IST

Published - September 22, 2021 09:12 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File


Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday urged Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt to rectify his incorrect and polarising sermon on a covert ‘narcotic jihad’ campaign by radical Islamists to entrap Catholic and non-Muslim youth with fatally addictive mind-altering drugs.

Mr. Vijayan said the government would be unsparing against those who propagated such false theories. He said Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan had demanded the same. The government would not remain a mute witness to divisive speech. It would crack the whip on inflammatory rhetoric irrespective of the commentator’s social stature.

“If society does not agree with a person’s view, then civic behaviour and propriety demanded the individual correct it,” Mr. Vijayan said.

Mr. Vijayan squarely blamed the bishop's remark for the current social tensions. “The wrongful statement had precipitated the controversy,” he said.

Mr. Vijayan denied the Opposition demand for an all-party meeting. But he left the door open for a conference of religious leaders. The Chief Minister reeled off the latest crime statistics to invalidate the bishop’s theory that Islamists plotted to ply Catholic and non-Muslim youth with narcotic drugs to corrupt or convert them.

He said Hindus comprised 49% of those arrested on drug charges in 2020, and Muslims and Christians accounted for 34% and 15.73%, respectively. There was no case of forced drug abuse.

Mr. Vijayan debunked the love jihad theory. Most Keralites who joined the Islamic State (IS) in 2018-19 were Muslims living in foreign countries. Christians and Hindus who converted to Islam and joined the IS from Kerala were few and far between.

They included a Christian couple from Ernakulam, a Hindu from Kozhikode, a Hindu woman from Thiruvananthapuram and a Christian youth hailing from Palakkad. The Supreme Court, Kerala High Court and NIA had debunked the love jihad theory in the high-profile Hadiya inter-faith marriage case.

The Chief Minister said the ‘narcotic jihad’ statement had advantaged those seeking to divide society into religious lines for political gain.

Cooperation Minister V.N. Vasavan had called on the Pala bishop at the latter’s request. It was not to express solidarity with the ‘narcotic jihad’ statement as alleged.

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