On Friday, VN Vasavan, minister for Cooperation and Registration in Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader visited Pala Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, who had made the anti-Muslim ‘narcotic jihad’ speech, and posted an appraisal Facebook post calling the bishop “scholarly” and accusing the ones protesting against him as “terrorists.”
Bishop has “scholarly knowledge on Bible, Quran and Bhagavat Gita”, said Vasavan who was visiting Pala Bishop, after his anti-Muslim remarks.
When the minister’s statement brought public outrage, CPIM’s state secretary, A Vijayaraghavan said he did not believe that there were ill intentions behind Pala Bishop’s controversial comments.
Vijayaraghavan in a press meet on Friday said that there was nothing wrong in the bishop’s statement. “The bishop had no ill-intention and that the BJP was making use of the issue,” Vijayaraghavan said.
“However, there were attempts to exploit the Bishop’s comments to divide the society on communal lines,” left party’s state chief Vijayaraghavan said in similar lines to Vasavan.
It was while addressing a prayer meeting, the Bishop of Pala, Mar Joseph Kallarangatt cautioned the Christian community from Muslims that target Christian youth through love jihad and narcotic jihad. However, he failed to provide any proof for his Islamophobic comment.
The bishop’s speech had triggered widespread condemnation from different sections of society and from several political parties.
Further more, Vasavan’s visit to the bishop’s residence and his declaring the ‘chapter closed’, after clearing the bishop from his hate speech by calling him scholarly and terrorising the ones protesting against it, is irresponsible and the wrong path to peace making, alleged critics.
While slamming the ruling left party and minister Vasavan, state Congress president K Sudhakaran has said the state government has failed to understand the gravity of the issue.
While Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan initially said that people holding responsible positions shouldn’t cause religious divisions, Vijayan later said that his government had no intention to initiate legal proceedings against the bishop.
Amidst these incidents, another priest in Kuravilangad asked believers to boycott Muslim business. Soon, protests came within the community. Kuravilangad nuns walked out in protest when a congregation turned communal.
And Coorilos, the Jacobite Bishop also said, “Pulpits should not be used for polemics,” and reminded that, “Gospel speaks of love, not hatred.”
Meanwhile, Christian and Muslim religious heads conducted a joint press meet at Mavelikkara and urged religious and political leaderships to take concrete steps to strengthen social harmony.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India vice-president Joshua Mar Ignathios, Kerala Council of Churches vice-president Alexios Mar Eusebius, KCC general secretary Prakash P Thomas and Mavelikkara Imam Abdul Waheed Moulavi Al Qasimi also expressed concerns over hate campaigns.