Pala Bishop remarks: UDF, LDF leaders accuse sangh parivar of attempting to disrupt communal harmony

  • | Wednesday | 15th September, 2021

Kozhikode, Sep 15 (PTI) Even as peace initiatives started at the ground level with meetings of religious leaders in connection with the controversial "narcotic jihad" remarks by Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of the Pala diocese, senior UDF and LDF leaders continued to accuse the Sangh Parivar of attempting to disrupt communal harmony in Kerala. The Congress-led coalition UDF also blamed the LDF government and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for allegedly waiting to see the different religious communities clash and collapse instead of taking steps, like holding an all-party meeting, to resolve the issue and prevent communal disharmony in the state. Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan said that the CPI(M) has appeared to have patched things up with the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the alleged political arm of the extremist Islamic organisation Popular Front of India, whose members had marched in protest to the Pala Bishop"s residence over his remark. Satheesan, while speaking to the media, said that CPI(M) does not hesitate to join hands with any "communal monster" to defeat the UDF and the Left government was watching as some try to pit two communities against each other. "Does the state government have the same agenda as the Sangh Parivar? Is the CM enjoying this conflict? Despite calls for an all-party meeting to maintain religious harmony, the government is not ready. If the government does not make an effort to solve the problem, the UDF will have to do the same," he said and added that the Congress does not associate with minority or majority communal forces. After meeting the Bishop in Pala on Monday, BJP national executive member P K Krishnadas had alleged that the Congress and the CPI(M) were taking a position in favour of extremist elements creating trouble in society, instead of addressing the issue raised by the senior Catholic priest. UDF convener M M Hassan, speaking to the media, said that while he respects the purity of intention behind the Bishop"s remark, the Sangh Parivar and other extremist groups were attempting to disrupt communal harmony in society by focusing on certain words of his address. He said the government needs to wake up and act, instead of waiting to see the communities clash and collapse. Hassan said it appeared as if the CM was trying to make political gains by not taking immediate action to prevent the breakdown of communal harmony. CPI leader Kanam Rajendran, in a Facebook post, said the Pala Bishop"s statement was not in line with Kerala society and Christian traditions. He said the Bishop"s statement has unfortunately acted as catalyst to energise the BJP, "which allegedly has come out with the aim of dividing the people of India on the basis of religion". He said the clergy should remember Pope Francis" guidelines that statements by them should not be divisive and added that the Christian community in Kerala has a long tradition of advocating for secularism and religious harmony. He urged all concerned to end all controversy and to uphold the message of religious harmony and secularism. During the day, the Church of South India (CSI) Central Diocese Bishop, Dr. Malayil Sabu Koshy Cherian and Kerala Muslim Youth Federation state president and Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid Imam, Shamsuddin Mannani Ilavupalam, issued a joint statement, stating that blaming each other and declaring solidarity with any one community through accusations only gives communal forces a chance to grow. They said that Kerala was a model for the world as a country where different religious communities have long co-existed in brotherhood and therefore, we should all work together, not only to fight racism, but in all areas of creative social service. They said it was unjustified to blame a certain religion for the wrongdoings of some of its followers. "The words we use and the meanings we give to them are very important to maintain the peaceful atmosphere of the society and therefore, if the words we use hurt the feelings of any community, they must be avoided. All communities should make collective efforts to deal with public issues such as alcohol and drug eradication, assistance to the sick and the disabled, upliftment of the downtrodden, women"s safety empowerment and environmental protection," they said in the joint statement. On Tuesday, in another peace meeting called by Pala DySP Shaju Jose, leaders of various religious communities came together and condemned the protests in Pala over the Bishop"s statement. They demanded strong action against propaganda that undermines the atmosphere of religious and communal peace through social media. During the meeting, the Pala DySP said that Facebook and WhatsApp groups, which make racial slurs and comments, would be investigated and strict legal action would be taken against them. As the Bishop"s remarks triggered a political row, the CM last week said those who hold responsible positions should refrain from making statements causing division in society. While the Congress had said the Bishop crossed limits, the BJP supported him by urging society to discuss the statement. Kallarangatt had said recently that Christian girls were falling prey to the alleged love and narcotic jihad in Kerala and wherever arms cannot be used, extremists were using such methods to destroy the youth. PTI HMP APR APR

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