Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Tom Vadakkan on Sunday sought a law against “narcotic jihad” – a term used by a Catholic bishop in Kerala to make unsubstantiated claims that Muslims in the state were luring members of other religious groups to become drug addicts, The Indian Express reported.
Speaking at a church in Kottayam district on Wednesday, Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt had claimed that “hardcore jihadis” are using “various types of drugs” in ice-cream parlours and hotels to target non-Muslim communities.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the state’s Congress leadership and Muslim organisations criticised the bishop for making communally charged allegations.
But Vadakkan on Sunday defended the claims made by the bishop, saying his comments were “the voice of the community who are victims of love jihad and the fallout of narco-terrorism”.
In his speech, Kallarangatt had also referred to “love jihad” – a conspiracy theory that had so far widely been espoused by Hindutva activists. They allege that through “love jihad”, Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.
In February 2019, the Centre had told the Lok Sabha that no case of “love jihad” had been reported by any of the central agencies.
Despite this, Vadakkan urged the Centre to introduce a law to deal with “narco-terrorism” and “love jihad” in fast track courts. “My appeal to the central government is to bring central legislation to book such elements,” he said, according to The Indian Express.
Several BJP-ruled states have already introduced laws to stop interfaith marriages. In February, the Centre had said it was not planning to enact any anti-conversion law as such matters are primarily the concerns of state governments. The Centre added that there was no evidence to show that interfaith marriages are related to forced religious conversions.
In August, the Gujarat High Court had put a stay on several sections of the state government’s law against forced religious conversion through marriage. The sections that have been put on hold include one that defined interfaith marriage as a reason for forceful conversion.
However, on Sunday, Vadakkan claimed that devotees of different churches have alleged that young women were “falling prey to love jihad” and that they “later end up in foreign jails”.
The Kerala unit of BJP has also written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, urging the central government to provide security to Kallarangatt, PTI reported.
In a letter to Shah on September 11, the General Secretary of BJP’s Kerala unit, George Kurian, alleged that some “extremists” had gone to Kallarangatt’s home and threatened him. Kurian also claimed that the bishop’s comments were a “reflection of the insecurity among Christians and Hindus” in Kerala.