Kerala bishop’s ‘narcotics jihad’ remark sparks outrage; plea filed against him

"Wherever arms cannot be used, narcotics are being used and it's here Catholic girls become the victims." the Bishop said.

Thiruvananthapuram: Adding to the growing rate of Islamophobia, the Syro Malabar Church Pala diocese bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt said that Catholic girls in Kerala were victims of “narcotic jihad”. The bishop further differentiated between “love jihad” and “narcotic jihad” and cautioned Christians against both. following the bishop’s comments, the Muslim Coordination Committee at Kottayam filed a petition demanding a non-bailable case to be registered against him.

Addressing the media at Kottayam on Friday, the office-bearers said they have filed the petition before the Kottayam Police as not a single agency has ever raised concerns regarding the rise of “love or narcotic jihad” in the state and as such the bishop’s speech is filled with communal overtures.  

“Statements like these are dangerous and send wrong signals and the best thing one can do is none should do anything which will act as a fuel for creating unrest,” said Congress working president PT Thomas.

Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan said the statement of the bishop crossed all levels of civility and further added that such statements should be avoided, especially by religious leaders as it only helps to fan trouble.

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“The need of the hour is that religious leaders should be one who will help tackle troubles in the society and what has happened has happened and this should end here,” he concluded.

The bishop while speaking at a Church celebration in Kottayam district’s Kuruvilangadu had said: “Wherever arms cannot be used, narcotics are being used and it’s here Catholic girls become the victims. And to help this there is a group in Kerala which is functioning. To understand this, one needs to just analyse how come ladies from other religions reached the IS camps,” said the bishop.

The bishop’s remarks evoked protests also from Samastha Kerala Sunni Students Federation state general secretary Sathar Panthaloor who said the remarks were unexpected from a bishop especially when it lacked proof.

Popular Front of India Kottayam district president Suneer Moulavi added that the bishop’s claims were aimed at communal polarisation.

The news of Keralites joining the IS surfaced after the Kerala government contacted various Central agencies — IB, NIA and RAW in 2016 about the veracity of reports about 19 missing people from the state, and according to some of the relatives they are believed to have joined the IS.

These 19 included 10 men, six women and three children and of these, most of them hail from Kasargode and a few from Palakkad districts and includes Christian and Hindu converts.

(with agency inputs)

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