New Delhi: Days after a Kerala bishop’s remarks on alleged ‘narco-jihad’ against non-Muslims drew criticism, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to support the bishop and his remarks, even asking the Union government to frame a law on the matter.
The Kerala unit of the BJP wrote to Union home minister Amit Shah, the Indian Express reported, asking the government “to prevent jihadi activities and protection to Palai bishop Joseph Kallarangatt and Christian community”.
“The intervention by Bishop, His excellency Joseph Kallarangatt of Pala, Kerala during sacred worship is not just a wakeup call for his dioceses, it is the voice of the community who are victims of love jihad and the fallout of narco-terrorism. The cases of love jihad and drug abuse victims are ramping up,” BJP spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said.
Addressing a religious congregation at Marth Mariam Pilgrim Church at Kuravilangad in Kottayam district on Wednesday, September 8, Palai diocese bishop Joseph Kallarangatt said there are two kinds of jihad – “love jihad and narcotic jihad”.
“The narcotic jihad is the activity of spoiling the life of non-Muslims, particularly youths, by making them addicted to drugs,” the bishop said. “Various types of drugs are being used in ice-cream parlours, hotels and juice corners run by hardcore jihadis. They are using various types of drugs as a weapon to spoil non-Muslims.”
Bishop Kallarangatt has not offered any proof for his claim that such crimes exists, and neither has the BJP. This was true even for the bogey of ‘love jihad’, but several BJP states went ahead to formulate laws against it anyway. These laws have since reportedly been used to harass interfaith couples.
While the BJP may have decided to throw its weight behind Kallarangatt and use his remarks for their own communal agenda, nuns in Kerala are far less convinced about the church’s growing anti-Muslim slant.
Four nuns from Kuravilangad, Kottayam recently accused another priest of hate speech against the Muslim community, and walked out of church in protest, The News Minute reported.
“The priest during mass today (September 12) made a speech supporting the Pala Bishop, a speech that sowed the seeds for communalism. The priest in the speech said that things like vegetables should not be bought from Muslims and asked the congregation not to travel in the autorickshaws they drive. This is not the first time he has made such remarks. Earlier too, he had made similar remarks about Muslims. Today, we couldn’t help but react and two of us walked out of the mass,” the protesting nuns – Anupama Kelamangalathuveliyil, Alphy Pallasseril, Ancitta Urumbil and Josephine Viloonickal – told the media.
The same nuns had in 2018 held protests demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco, who had been accused of rape.