The statement made by Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt on Narcotic Jihad has opened a Pandora’s Box as it has created a fissure in the age-old relationship between Christians and Muslims. The controversy is aimed at, as many believe, creating a different socio-political space for Christians in Kerala and strengthening the anti-Muslim hate agenda of the Sangh Parivar, locally and nationally.
MI Abdul Azeez, JIH Kerala Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, while responding to the Bishop’s uncalled for statement on Narcotic Jihad, said, “The statement made by the Bishop of Kerala is an attempt to harm the peaceful coexistence and damage the peaceful relationship between Christians and Muslims. It is also aimed at disturbing the social fabric and law and order there. This poisonous statement of Narcotic Jihad was not impromptu but a well thought out and planned script to defame and demonise Muslims. Efforts were on to create tension between the two committees earlier but the statement of the Bishop has added fuel to the fire which is highly condemnable.”
On the damage to the secular fabric of the state, he said, “The statement has harmed the secular fabric of Kerala and has damaged the reputation of Muslims. By inventing terms like ‘Love Jihad’ and ‘Narcotic Jihad’, attempt has been made to defame Muslims and add salt to the wounds of the Muslims. By presenting the meaning of Jihad in distorted perspective, they are trying to defame Islam. By doing so they are trying to create an atmosphere of hate against Muslims to enhance enmity between Christians and Muslims and against Muslims in general elsewhere.”
“The allegation has been made against Muslims that they are conspiring against girls from other faiths in schools, colleges, hostels and other places. They are also claiming that people with jihadi mindset can be found among Muslims doing business and other activities. In this manner they are trying to frame all Muslims. Kerala has highest literacy and people there are prosperous but efforts are on to target their peaceful wellbeing and that is why they are targeting Muslims here,” said JIH Ameer of Kerala.
He added, “The statement made against Muslims in Kerala resembles the earlier statements made by Sangh Parivar. The statement has been made to appease anti-Muslim forces for some policy gains in the state. However, the Christians should be reminded that the core ideology of the Sangh Parivar has been anti-Muslim and anti-Christians since ages. The community should not fall into the trap of Sangh Parivar for some petty social and political gains.”
On Love Jihad rhetoric, he said, “The term ‘Love Jihad’ has been rejected by investigative agencies and the courts. It proves that allegation of Love Jihad is baseless. The Bishop is trying to prove a point based on false rhetoric of Love Jihad. By doing so, he is trying to defame the system of rule of law. It was good to note that most of the Churches and Christian leaders have criticised the statement of the Bishop and they are to restore the existing relationship between Christians and Muslims. The Christian communities by and large have denounced the statement of Narcotic Jihad.”
On the role of the government, he said, “What is worrying is that the Government of Kerala as well as some other political parties in the state has supported the Bishop which is a matter of serious concern. History will judge the role of the Kerala Government how it has helped one community to propagate against another community. Anti-Muslim atmosphere will help the Sangh Parivar and their agenda. For some political benefit they are trying to create communal tension between Christians and Muslims. The Christian community towards the end will be the ultimate loser. The Muslims should remain alert and should not be provoked but rather should try to defuse tension peacefully through dialogue.”
In a latest development, VHP has threatened to demolish Churches in Madhya Pradesh. Taking strong note of it, a Bishop has appealed to the President of India seeking his urgent intervention to ensure the safety and security of Christians and to stop the anti-Christian violence.
The onslaught on citizens of minority faith continues in Madhya Pradesh. Individuals claiming to be members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) say they are preparing to demolish churches in the Jhabua district on Sunday, 26th September. Auxiliary Bishop Paul Muniya of the Protestant Shalom Church in Jhabua, led a delegation to District Collector, the highest government official in the district, and submitted a memorandum addressed to the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, seeking his urgent intervention to ensure the safety and security of Christians and to stop the anti-Christian violence. He has also appealed to the state’s Governor and Chief Minister to intervene and diffuse the situation.
Bishop Muniya, while addressing the media, expressed his anguish and concern over what appears to be the local administrators siding with the perpetrators responsible for harassing Christians who number a mere 4 per cent of the one million population of the district. “If there is an illegal structure, let the administration take action. Why are private individuals and organisations issuing such threats?” the Bishop asked.
Father Maria Stephan, PRO of Bhopal Catholic Archdiocese, feels both the revenue and police administration of the district are biased against Christians. “Christians are peace-loving citizens. We are seeking judicial remedies to ensure peace and harmony in our society. We have no objection to sharing any official details about our work and personnel to the government provided the intention is right.”
President of UCF, Dr. Michael Williams, while expressing concern and distress over the situation in Jhabua, has appealed to the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister to help put a stop to this targeted violence. “The very fabric of our secular nation is being stretched by a few who do not respect the Constitution of India. Such people are the real anti-nationals and must be dealt with as strictly under law as possible. This intolerance has no room in our country,” he added.