Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 20: A meeting of leaders of various religions on Monday called for steps to strengthen the secular fabric of Kerala society in the wake of controversial “narcotic jihad” remarks made by a Catholic Bishop, even as political parties continued to engage in a slugfest over the issue.
The meeting, convened by Cardinal Baselios Cleemis of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, was attended by Muslim Youth League leader Panakkad Sayyid Munavvar Ali Shihab Thangal, Swami Gururethnam Jnana Thapaswi of the Santhigiri Ashram and representatives of other religious organisations. However, representatives of the Syro-Malabar Church did not attend the meeting.
Representatives of various other Muslim organisations also did not turn up for the meeting. Talking to reporters after the meeting, Cardinal Cleemis said they did not discuss the “narcotic jihad” issue, although they gathered together here in the context of Pala Bishop’s remarks. He said the meeting deliberated on how to strengthen the harmony among various communities of the state and what they can contribute to achieve that goal.
Asked whether he supported the suggestion from various quarters to convene an all-party meeting to resolve the issue, the priest welcomed it and said if the Chief Minister convenes a meeting of all religious heads, that will be seen as a positive step.
Thangal emphasised the need to fight against all forms of communalism and create a positive atmosphere in the state. He said differences should be resolved through discussions and dialogue. Meanwhile, the political wrangling continued over the issue with CPI(M) acting state secretary A Vijayaraghavan accusing the Congress of creating a division among communities and KPCC chief K Sudhakaran hitting back at the Communist leader, calling him a communalist.
Talking to reporters, Vijayaraghavan alleged that the Congress was engaged in creating divisions in society, “adopting the style of the BJP.” A day after the Congress in Kerala said it would call a meeting of various religious leaders to spread the message of communal harmony, Vijayaraghavan said both Sudhakaran and the Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan were engaged in creating divisions in society.
Attacking the CPI(M) leader, Sudhakaran alleged that Vijayaraghavan was a big communalist in the state. He alleged that the government was fighting against the religious leaders of the state by fielding “Shikhandis” like Vijayaraghavan. Sudhakaran demanded to know why the government was not ready to convene an all-party meeting to resolve the issue. BJP state president K Surendran also urged the government to convene an all party meet to discuss the matter. The Bishop had, at a function on September 9, stated that Christian girls were falling prey to ‘love and narcotic jihad’ in Kerala and wherever arms cannot be used, extremists were using such methods to destroy the youth of the state. PTI TGB APR APR
Story first published: Monday, September 20, 2021, 23:17 [IST]