Reacting to the ‘love and narcotic jihad’ remark by Catholic bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday said those who hold responsible positions should refrain from making statements causing division in society.
He said Kallarangatt is a religious scholar and needs to be careful while making remarks.
The remarks kicked up a storm in political circles in Kerala on Friday.
The Opposition Congress said the bishop has crossed limits while the BJP supported him by urging society to discuss about the statement.
"Pala Bishop is a religious scholar who is also an influential person. In such cases, we all need to be careful in not making any statements that may cause division among people of the society. Now, the Bishop said Narcotic Jihad. We are coming across this term for the first time," Vijayan said in a press meet here.
He said the issue with narcotics is that it was something that affects religion and society.
"Not sure what he (Bishop) meant by making this statement. But while handling such matters, those holding responsible positions must ensure that they don't make any statements causing division among people on communal lines. We all should keep this in our minds," Vijayan said.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly V D Satheesan, in a social media post, requested the community and spiritual leaders to desist from making any move or such statement. Crime does not have any caste or gender, he said. "It is a grave mistake to count the number of crimes on the basis of caste and religion and blame any particular community for the same. The statement of Kallarangatt has crossed limits," he said.
He said religious leaders should maintain self-control and restraint.
Echoing the same, senior Congress leader and MLA P T Thomas said the bishop's remark is not conducive to communal harmony.
"No one should give fuel to divide communities that have always maintained religious harmony," he said in the post.
But, BJP State chief K Surendran came out supporting the bishop by saying that what he had said was a serious issue which society should discuss and analyse.
"What the Bishop has said is based on his own experience. It is a serious issue which should be discussed without any prejudice. Why are certain people afraid of debate?" he told reporters here.
Supporting Kallarangatt, the BJP president alleged that narcotic jihad is a reality in the State and those being arrested in connection with rave parties there have links with terrorist networks.
Not just in Kerala or the country at large or even across the world, drug mafia has links with terrorist groups, he said.
"There is no need to attack the bishop from all corners for telling the truth. What he said was not a new thing. He did not accuse any particular community but blamed only those indulging in anti-social activities," Surendran added.
A Muslim outfit based in Kottayam lodged a complaint with the district police chief against the bishop.
The Mahallu Muslim Coordination Committee, a taluk outfit in Kottayam, sought legal action against him by alleging he was trying to polarise society on communal lines.
"A case should be registered against him under IPC 153 A for making such a communal statement," Ajas Thachatt, the secretary of the outfit, told reporters.
IPC 153 A refers to promoting enmity among different groups on the basis of religion, race, place of birth, residence and language, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
On Thursday, Kallarangatt said Christian girls were falling prey to the alleged love and narcotic jihad in Kerala and wherever arms cannot be used, extremists were using such methods to destroy youth.
Addressing devotees in a church at Kuravilangad in the district, the bishop said the alleged love jihad involved non-Muslim girls, especially those in the Christian community, being converted after trapping them in love and being exploited, misused for activities like terrorism.(With PTI Inputs)