Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday (September 22) dismissed all allegations about the prevalence of ‘narcotics jihad’ in the state and backed it up with data. Vijayan said such accusations are being deliberately made to divide society into communal factions.
The chief minister also said the government has no plans to call an all-party meeting as demanded by the Opposition Congress to find a ‘permanent solution’ to the row.
Pala Bishop Joseph Kallrangatt at a recent gathering at Marth Mariam Pilgrim Church in Kottayam district had remarked that non-Muslims, mostly youngsters, were getting addicted to drugs supplied by Muslims as part of a conspiracy called ‘Narcotic Jihad’.
“Love or narcotics cannot be accounted to some particular religion,” Vijayan told the media at the daily 6 pm press briefing. “There is a deliberate attempt to create cracks in our secular fabric. The allegations regarding organised conversion or drug dealings by a particular religion do not hold water. If we analyse the data of conversions and drug deals, we can understand that minority religions do not have any particular or bigger role in it,” he said.
Also read: Kerala Bishop’s ‘narcotic jihad’ remark and its undercurrents
Quoting data, he said, “Under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, 4,941 cases were registered in 2020. Around 5,242 people have been booked under these cases. Out of the 5242, 49.8 per cent belong to the Hindu community (2,700) while 1,679 or 34 per cent of the accused are Muslims. (1869). 15.73 per cent (853) of those who are booked for drug dealing are from the Christian community. There is no evidence to show that the drug dealers are from any particular religion.”
Vijayan also said that allegations that more Christians are being converted to Islam was “baseless” as there are no complaints or evidence to substantiate the same.
“The case of Akhila aka Hadiya that happened two years ago was shown as an example to substantiate the allegation about forced conversion. But the court examined the case and found that it was a voluntary conversion of an educated adult woman,” he said.
The campaign that girls are being trapped in love affairs and trafficked to ISIS also is baseless, the chief minister said.
“Let’s examine the data. Around 100 Malayalees have joined in ISIS till 2019. (Around) 72 of them had already have migrated and were working in some other country. They were attracted to ISIS while working abroad. There is only one Hindu among them who got converted. All others were Muslims. The remaining 28 have gone to join ISIS from Kerala. Among them, there were only five people who got converted to Islam from other religions. There were two couples and all were Christians. Nimisha aka Fathima who was a Hindu married Bekson who was a Christian and Merin Jacob married Bestin and both were Christians. These couples converted only after their marriage,” he said.
The Chief Minister also said that the government will organise counter-radicalisation programmes with the support of Muslim religious organisations and scholars in the state.
The chief minister did not respond to the demand for an all-party meeting raised by the Opposition. He said the government should not find it necessary at this point of time.
“Each party should take positions that help in guarding the communal harmony of Kerala. The government requests all religious groups to do the same. All religious groups should be ready to isolate those who make hateful statements against other religions,” Vijayan said.
Also read: Kerala Muslims unhappy with Left government’s response to ‘narcotic jihad’
Leaders of around 13 Islamic organisations convened a meeting at Kozhikkode on Tuesday to discuss the issue. The leaders after discussion reached unanimous consensus that the Pala Bishop should withdraw his remarks about ‘Narcotic Jihad’. The leaders also expressed their displeasure over the delay by the government in responding to such communal statements made by a Catholic religious leader. AP Sunni faction led by Kanthapuram Aboobacker Musaliar (the one known to be loyal to the left) did not participate in today’s meeting which was initiated by IUML.