Kerala bishop talks of ‘narcotics jihad’: BJP wants Centre to bring in law against it

Cases of love jihad and drug abuse are going up, BJP spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said in a statement. He alleged that the Kerala government has not taken cognisance of the fact despite inputs from investigative agencies.

With a Kerala Catholic bishop’s claim of “narcotics jihad” becoming a political flashpoint between parties in the state, the national BJP on Sunday joined in, saying the allegation echoed the voice of the Christian community in the state and sought the intervention of the central government to bring in a law to deal with “narco-terrorism” and “love jihad”.

“The intervention by Bishop, His Excellency Joseph Kallarangatt of Pala, Kerala during sacred worship is not just a wake-up 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 in a statement.

Vadakkan alleged that the Kerala government has not taken cognisance of the fact despite inputs from investigative agencies. According to the BJP leader, the bishop council has raised the issue following inputs from devotees of different churches alleging that young girls are lured and they fall prey to “love jihad” and “later end up in foreign jails”. He said, “this has to be accounted as human trafficking.”

“The rising drug abuse in different communities has affected peace within families and has created socio-economic disorder of disastrous levels,” Vadakkan claimed.

The Pala bishop’s statement has triggered a controversy in the state and has brought out public demonstrations from both the Christian and Muslim communities, making the atmosphere communally charged. While the ruling CPI-M and the main opposition Congress have expressed their displeasure over the remarks, the BJP in Kerala has come out backing the bishop.

While Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan maintained that there was no need to give religious colour to narcotics, opposition leader V D Satheesan of Congress criticised the Sangh Parivar, accusing it of trying to spark communal tension over the bishop’s comments.

“My appeal to the central government is to bring central legislation to book such elements, and bring in fast track courts to deal with narco-terrorism and love jihad,” Vadakkan added.

Bishop Kallarangatt had on Thursday triggered a controversy, saying Christian girls were largely falling prey to “love and narcotic jihad” in Kerala and wherever arms cannot be used, extremists were using such methods to destroy the youth belonging to other religions.

In a statement, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) on Saturday said that the bishop’s words were not aimed at any community and he was sharing the community’s concerns. It should not be made controversial and should instead be debated with seriousness, the statement said.

The BJP has been trying to woo the Christian community that constitutes around 19 per cent of the state’s population for expanding its electoral base in the southern state. Addressing the BJP general secretaries in June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had advised the BJP leaders to shed “rigidity” in forming alliances and advised that the BJP should try and win over the Christian community in the state, as it “does not seem to be having any major issues in joining hands with BJP.” The Prime Minister also had meetings with Church leaders from the state earlier this year.

The party had taken up the issue of alleged “love-jihad’ – a term used by right-wing activists to refer to an alleged campaign of Muslims forcing Hindu girls to convert in the guise of love – in the Christian dominated areas after some church leaders expressed their concern over it. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s manifesto had promised a special law to contain ‘love jihad’ features.

Extending their support to the Bishop, Minister of State for External Affairs and senior BJP leader V Muraleedharan has said that the bishop had raised the concerns of the community in Kerala and he cannot be silenced by attacking him.

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