Joseph Kallarangatt has spoken for himself as an individual, not the entire community, says prominent Christian leader AC Michael; Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan also negates his claims
Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India
NEW DELHI — After a catholic Bishop in Kerala raked up controversy by his remarks around ‘love jihad’ and ‘narcotics jihad’ this week, politicians and activists have negated his claims as baseless.
Speaking with Clarion India, rights activists AC Michael, former member of Delhi Minorities Commission and a prominent member of Christian community in the country, said that he totally disagreed with the remarks of the Bishop, Joseph Kallarangatt, who has said that Muslims in Kerala are using “love Jihad” to convert non-Muslims especially those belonging to the Christian community by trapping them into “love”.
“He has spoken for himself as an individual,” said Michael. “Yes, he is a bishop of a particular territory (at Kuravilangad in Kottayam district, Bishop of the Palai Diocese of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church) but his views do not represent the views of Christian community.”
“I do not agree that a particular community is trying to convert other communities through the means of so-called love Jihad”
“It is the same allegation of forced conversion of Hindus by Christians which is not true.”
The former Delhi minority panel member also referred to the statement of the Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy, given on 5th of February 2019 that no case of “love jihad” had been reported in Kerala by any of the central agencies.
“Love Jihad” – a bogus term to describe a conspiracy theory that Muslim men hoodwink women into love and marry for conversion to Islam — and the union ministry had said back then that the term is not defined under the extant laws and “Article 25 of the Constitution provides for the freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health”, he said.
However, in November 2020, Uttar Pradesh enacted a law, making religious conversion for marriage a punishable offense, with imprisonment for up to 10 years. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had stated that the law would put an end to “Love Jihad”.
The term first cropped up in Kerala and sparked controversy after a Hindu woman converted to Islam, adopted a Muslim name Hadia and later married a Muslim man. The woman maintained throughout that she converted out of her own free will. But her father went to Kerala High Court which ruled in his favour and separated Hadiya from her husband. The matter became a national issue and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was asked to investigate it. The NIA could find nothing and ultimately, in 2018, the Supreme Court annulled the order of the high court, thus allowing Hadiya to go with her husband.
“There is no evidence to prove that there is something like love Jihad being practiced by Muslims,” Michael said.
He urged the bishop to reconsider his statement in which he had also brought up “narcotics Jihad” accusations against Muslims.
Michael, however, warned that the statement of one bishop should not be used to blame the whole Christian community.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also negated the claims of the bishop as he said, according to reports, the problem of drugs doesn’t affect a particular religion alone, but the society as a whole.
“Narcotics don’t have the colour of religion, its colour is anti-social,” Vijayan said on Saturday.
“Pala Bishop is an influential and religious scholar. We’re hearing the term ‘narcotic jihad’ for the first time. The problem of narcotics doesn’t affect a particular religion alone, it affects society as a whole. We are worried about it. We’re strengthening legal action,” he said.
Vijayan urged the influential people and community leaders to speak “cautiously”.
“Not clear what he (Pala Bishop) meant, not understanding what are the circumstances he spoke about. Those in responsible positions should be cautious not to make a religious division in society.”
The remarks of bishop have angered the Muslim community in Kerala. They said such remarks could deepen divide among communities in the society.