Pala Bishop had no intention to create disharmony: CM

By Special Correspondent

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that creating enmity between communities was not the purpose of Bishop of Pala Mar Joseph Kallarangatt’s controversial sermon on ‘narcotic jihad.’

The diocese has since clarified that the Bishop’s aim was to caution believers under his pastoral care about the criminal networks that pushed narcotic drugs to impressionable youth for profit.

The Bishop delivered the speech from the pulpit to believers. He had not made a public statement. Hence, the government believed there was no legal ground for any case against the prelate, Mr Vijayan said here on Wednesday.

Mr. Vijayan said narcotic jihad was a misnomer for drug abuse and allied criminal activity. The drug mafia was a universal phenomenon. They were powerful than governments in some countries. However, it was incorrect to ascribe drug peddling to any particular religion. The drug mafia did not bear the standard of any faith.

Spiritual leaders should be cautious not to let their words be twisted out of context by forces that seek to divide society for political gain. Such forces had lost their relevance in Kerala. The people had relegated them to political insignificance, he said.

However, they could use the slightest opportunity to demonise people of a particular minority faith to stoke fear, insecurity and ghetto mentality in society. Kerala was an oasis of communal peace and harmony. The government was committed to protecting the State's secular and progressive legacy, Mr. Vijayan said.

It would not allow any vested interest to drive a wedge between communities. Ideally, different faiths should be in discourse to alleviate misunderstandings and build confidence and mutual respect. The government, in conjunction with Opposition parties, would provide a platform for such dialogue.

Mr. Vijayan slammed the purported statement by a spiritual leader that a particular minority community engaged in sorcery to corrupt youth from other religions. Such falsehoods were the relics of medieval feudalism Kerala had relegated to the dustbin of history.

Kerala was a modern society led by renaissance values, rationalism and scientific temperament. Such hate speech would find no traction in the progressive State. Mr. Vijayan said the police would prosecute those who promoted divisive rhetoric on social media.

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