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Pala bishop Joseph Kallarangatt faces criticism over his divisive 'love, narcotic jihad' remarks

Both the ruling front and the opposition slammed the bishop

Joseph-Kallarangatt Joseph Kallarangatt | via website of diocese of Pala

Joseph Kallarangatt, bishop of Kerala's Pala diocese, was left isolated on Friday by both the ruling front and the opposition over his controversial 'love jihad' and 'narcotic jihad' remarks.

While senior Congressmen, including leader of the opposition V.D. Satheesan minced no words in criticizing the bishop, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was more measured in his criticism. "It is not clear what the bishop meant or what the circumstances were under which he made the statement, but what is important is that everyone has to be careful to not say anything divisive," CM Pinarayi Vijayan said after his COVID-19 briefing.

Satheesan had posted on Facebook that the bishop's statement had "crossed a line". He had called for higher-ups of religious organisations to maintain restraint and self-control.

The chief minister, who referred to Kallarangatt as 'a religious scholar with great influence' remarked that he had never heard the term 'narcotic jihad' before. "Narcotics is not something that affects a particular community, it is something that worries all of us. While steps are being taken to stop drug abuse in all possible ways, it is not right to assign a particular religion's colour to narcotics. It only has the colour of anti-socials," Vijayan said.

Earlier, in his Facebook post, Satheesan had urged religious and spiritual leaders to refrain from making statements that ruin the mutual trust and peaceful atmosphere in Kerala.

"Crime has no religion, caste or gender," wrote Satheesan.

"Several deplorable and terrifying incidents such as murders, extremist stands, drug abuse, misuse of social media and harming women and children take place daily. Classifying those based on caste or religion or my blaming a particular community is wrong," he noted.

According to the senior politician, attributing caste and religion to severe mental defects is akin to discrimination. He has called upon spiritual leaders to shed light instead of spreading darkness. "It is better to put an end to this controversy. Do not create friction in Kerala by retorting to mudslinging," he said.

Meanwhile, KPCC working president, P.T. Thomas said that no one must create friction between religious communities living in harmony. "Financial gains and greed are the roots of criminal activities. It is rare in the modern society for criminals to operate based on caste or religion," wrote Thomas on his Facebook page.

The bishop had stirred a row by claiming during a sermon at a church in Kuravilangad in the Kottayam district the presence of love and narcotic jihad that he said was ruining non-Muslim youth in Kerala.

Muslim co-ordination committee reacts

The Muslim co-ordination committee said equating the Islamic concept of jihad to terrorism for vested interests is deplorable. The allegations raised by the bishop have not been validated by any agency, the committee said in a statement.

The committee has filed a complaint to the Kottayam district police chief demanding the issuance of a nonbailable warrant against the bishop over the incident.


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