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Narcotic jihad: Church, BJP endorse Pala bishop, Congress tones down criticism

Author:
Publication: The New Indian Express
Date: September 12, 2021
URL:        https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2021/sep/12/narcotic-jihad-church-bjp-endorse-pala-bishop-congress-tones-down-criticism-2357481.html

Presence of terrorist organisations and steep rise in the narcotic drug use are the important ones.

With the ‘narcotic jihad’ allegation triggering heated debates in the state and beyond, the Catholic Church has thrown its weight behind the Pala bishop saying his remarks “should not be made controversial” as“it is a fact that Kerala is facing some serious social crisis”.

However, with more Christian organisations coming out in support of Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, Congress decided to tone down its criticism. BJP, which had called for a probe into the allegation, rallied behind the bishop, with Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan alleging that the chief minister and Opposition leader have become spokespersons of jihadis.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Kerala Catholic Bishops Council said: “In the wake of international agencies cautioning about the presence of terrorist groups, including ISIS, in the state and seizure of crores worth narcotics, the remarks of the bishop raising concern and cautioning the youth should not be made controversial.”

“It is a fact that Kerala is facing some serious social crisis. Presence of terrorist organisations and steep rise in the narcotic drug use are the important ones. Though the mainstream media is not giving required importance to these issues, the various news and daily events reported clarify these facts,” said KCBC deputy secretary and spokesperson Fr Jacob Palackappilly in the statement.

“These serious challenges Kerala’s society is facing are not accusatory to any community. The apprehension that discussions on these have a communal tinge is also misplaced. Community leaders should, instead, take on the mantle of responsibility to solve the problem, maintaining communal harmony. The Catholic Church believes in social unity and peaceful coexistence. All of us should unite in one voice against these threats to our society, aiming for the larger goal of communal harmony,” said KCBC.

Hindu community apprehensive, says BJP; Sangh Parivar’s agenda: Congress

Congress leaders V D Satheesan and P T Thomas had slammed the Pala bishop on Friday saying that he had crossed the limits, but the former softened his stand on Saturday after more Christian organisations and a section within the party backed the bishop. He instead singled out Sangh Parivar for criticism.

Satheesan alleged in Kochi that the narcotic jihad is Sangh Parivar’s agenda aimed at creating rifts between the Christian and Muslim communities. Urging to tone down the attacks on the Pala bishop, Satheesan said the issue should not be allowed to escalate or else society will witness a rift.

Talking to reporters in the capital on Saturday, Muraleedharan said  the bishop not humiliate the Muslim community as whole. “Had the Pala Bishop had humiliated the Muslim community as a whole by raising narcotic jihad, then it is not right. Instead, he spoke only about a small section of people, who have been endorsing jihadi activities. The Hindu community is also apprehensive of what the bishop had said. He said authoritatively that along with love jihad, narcotic jihad is also prevalent,” said Muraleedharan.

He, however, said that he will find out whether the central government is aware about the presence of ‘narcotic jihad’ in the state or not. He also demanded to know the stand of Kerala Congress (Mani) leader Jose K Mani on ‘narcotic jihad’. Just before the assembly elections, Jose had demanded that love jihad should be addressed. But a day later, owing to pressure from various quarters, he withdrew his controversial statement.
 
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