By Aljo K Joseph
Kerala, a progressive and liberal society, has been hit by a controversy with dangerous portents. Recently, Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt set the cat among the pigeons when he claimed that a new method to convert non-Muslims called “narcotics jihad” was going on in the state. While this statement created a political furore with the BJP supporting the bishop, it is also a social issue which will destroy the harmony of the state.
The Bishop said there were two types of jihad—love jihad and narcotics jihad. “The narcotic jihad is the activity of spoiling the life of non-Muslims, particularly youths, by making them addicted to drugs,” the bishop alleged. “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.”
It was around 2009 when the term “love jihad” entered the popular lexicon in Kerala. The Kerala High Court had urged the government to frame laws against “love jihad”, claiming that there were indications of “forceful religious conversions under the garb of love”.
Addressing the laity on the occasion of the eighth-day lent of Mary, Mar Joseph Kallarangatt accused a section of vested interest groups of targeting non-Muslim youth through love jihad and narcotic jihad. The latter targets youth and makes them addicted to drugs. He said there were specific groups in Kerala targeting non-Muslim youth. Their aim is to destroy non-Muslim religions without fighting with weapons, the Bishop added. Drugs are being used in ice-cream parlours, hotels and juice corners run by vested interests.
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Kerala is known for its secular views and communal harmony. “Mathamethayalum Manushyan Nannayal Mathi (Which ever religion, the aim is for humans to be righteous)” —this statement by Sree Narayana Guru, a social reformer, has been taught in schools and practised by the community at large in Kerala. Onam is celebrated by all Keralites, irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Every Ayyappa going to Sabarimala will visit and worship Vavar Swami (a Muslim friend of Lord Ayyappa) before going to the Temple. Thus, social harmony and secularism are part and parcel of Kerala life.
The world has seen enough revolutions in different forms. But a revolution through narcotics is a recent phenomenon. It has no boundaries, territories, colour or ethnicity. Every individual in Kerala, be it Muslim religious leader Panakkad Thangal, Swami Vishuddhananda of Shivagiri (Ramakrishna Mission) or the Palayam Imam, will be worried about this. After all, narcotics jihad is a different religion which will destroy the beautiful social fabric of the state.
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Unfortunately, no serious steps were taken to regulate the use of narcotics in Kerala. The church has taken up this issue in Kerala. See what is happening in Punjab. Drugs have taken a firm foothold there and led to the destruction of many families. The fight against such addictions should begin from the family itself, where every child should be taught not to get attracted to drugs. Building a generation with social responsibility and commitment should be the endeavour of all political, social and religious leadership. But is the state government aware about such a drastic use of narcotic drugs in society? If yes, what remedial action has been taken? What action has been taken to enlighten and educate youngsters about the menace of drugs? In the absence of any positive and progressive answers from the government, it should be construed that Bishop Kallarangatt was concerned about about narcotics becoming a politico-legal and social issue.
The past has shown a degeneration of morality in society, leading to lawlessness. It is the duty and obligation of the government to ensure that the rule of law is prevalent in every community. For petty political gain, if the rigour of law is ignored, then no one can complain about jihad.
—The writer is an advocate on record in the Supreme Court and Executive Member, SCAORA
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