Kerala Catholic Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt has sparked a controversy over the alleged rise of ‘Narcotics Jihad’ among Christian youth. But, what is Narcotics Jihad?
Bishop Mar Joseph claims that there is an alleged attempt by Muslims to convert Christians to Islam using drugs. This apparent phenomenon is turning non-Muslims into drug addicts. The use of locally available items such as ice-creams and juices as sources to sell drugs is quite rampant. While Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has outrightly denied the allegations, many followers of the Syro-Malabar Church begs to differ. The CM shared, “[There is] no need to give religious colour to narcotics. People in higher echelons of society should be chary about creating fissures in society with such comments.”
This community has, for years, shown hatred towards the Muslim community, constantly alleging jihadist activities. Be it Love Jihad or Narcotics Jihad, the Syro-Malabar Church has reverberated a sentiment that has constantly stirred up a controversy.
The Syro-Malabar Church in Kottayam’s Pala town has had a huge political alliance with the BJP. Their coalition with the Hindutva movement has resulted in the rise of BJP power in the district. The comparison of the shrinking Christian population in Kerala to the rise of jihadist activities shows the Islamophobic attitude of the church. The alleged underlying narrative is apparently closely related to being in co-operation with the Narendra Modi Government.
The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) tried to soften Bishop Mar Joseph’s blow by saying that the statement wasn’t against any particular community. Rather, it is a burning concern within the community. Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan, who is also a senior BJP leader shared, “The bishop has not insulted any community. He has raised the concerns of the Christian community in Kerala. Don’t think that the bishop can be silenced by attacking him. Those who target the bishop should realize that the situation has changed much since the chopping of the palm of a college professor (on charges of blasphemy). Only a subdued protest was seen then.”
The Kottayam Mahallu Muslim Coordination Committee has filed an FIR against Bishop Mar Joseph under section 153 A of IPC for stating these controversial allegations.
Before you make a judgement, here are a few questions you should ask yourself – Is Narcotics Jihad another term used to fracture the communal fabric of Kerala? Why do we have to associate ‘drugs’ with a particular community or religion?