Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday cited data to refute claims that there were links between any religion and “narcotics and jihad”, reported The Indian Express.

“Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory espoused by Hindutva activists. They allege that through “love jihad”, Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.

“Narcotic jihad” is another conspiracy theory that alleges that Muslims lure members of other religious groups to become drug addicts.

The chief minister’s comments came amid a controversy in Kerala that began after Joseph Kallarangatt, a bishop of the Palai diocese of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, alleged on September 8 that “jihadis” were using various types of drugs to spoil non-Muslims.

On interfaith marriages, Kallarangatt had alleged that women were first directed towards compromising their faith and then turned to terrorism.

When the controversy emerged, Vijayan had criticised the bishop for making such unsubstantiated claims.

On Wednesday, Vijayan reiterated his opposition to the bishop’s comments. The chief minister cited government data to highlight that 4,941 cases were registered last year in the state under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and out of the 5,422 accused persons, 2,700 (49.80%) were Hindus, 1,869 (34.47%) Muslims and 853 (15.73%) Christians.

“There is no unusual ratio in these figures,” the chief minister said. “The narcotic business is not on the basis of religion.”

Vijayan said there had been no reported instances of residents becoming addicts and then being converted to another religion. He added that there was also no evidence to show that drug peddlers or users belong to a particular religion.

“On school, college campuses, there are students from various communities,” he said. “If any of them uses drugs or becomes part of the drug peddling network, it is puerile to analyse that as part of a concerted attempt of any religion.”

The chief minister also described the allegations related to interfaith marriages as baseless.

“Of the 100 people who have reportedly joined IS [Islamic State] from Kerala, 72 joined that outfit abroad where they had gone for job or other purposes,” he said. “Of them, except a person from Kozhikode [a Hindu], all others were born Muslims.”

Vijayan added that 28 non-Muslims from Kerala had joined the terrorist group. Of these, five people joined the group after converting to Islam, reported The Indian Express.

“They got converted after marriage,” the chief minister added. “These figures do not substantiate the campaign that women are converted into Islam after being trapped in love.”

Among these 28 persons, a Hindu woman from Thiruvananthapuram had married a Christian man from Palakkad and a Christian woman from Ernakulam married a Christian youth, according to PTI.

In February 2019, the central government, had said that cases of “love jihad” had not been reported anywhere in the country. The Centre had then told the Lok Sabha that no such case had been reported by any of the central agencies.

Meanwhile, Vijayan on Wednesday also refused to hold an all-party meeting demanded by the Opposition to resolve the matter. He said that remarks were not made by someone related to any political party.

The chief minister said that Kerala’s residents have rejected the bishop’s comments and expressed hope that he would respond.

Vijayan also spoke about Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan’s allegation that the state government had not taken steps to address the controversy. The chief minister said that he would take strong action against those trying to take advantage of the situation.

The chief minister also said that his government would be strict with those spreading communal hatred on social media platforms.