Court orders police to investigate Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt for his ‘love jihad, narcotic jihad’ remarks
Police in the southern Indian state of Kerala have initiated a probe against Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Pala in connection with his controversial “love jihad, narcotic jihad” remarks.
The police registered a case on Nov. 1 after a local magistrate court ordered an investigation into the bishop, a member of the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church, in response to a complaint from an organization of Muslim imams.
The prelate has been charged with promoting disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred between different groups on the grounds of religion and race and prejudicial references under sections of the Indian Penal Code in compliance with the court order, said a senior police official.
Abdul Aziz Maulavi, the Kottayam district president of All India Imams Council in his petition before the magistrate court, had demanded action against the prelate for his remarks during his homily in Kuravilangad Church on Sept. 8 during the nativity celebration of Mother Mary.
The petitioner said he had approached the police seeking action against the bishop but to no avail and so he was forced to move the court.
As widely reported, Bishop Kallarangatt had said that Muslim terrorists wanted to “promote their religion” and to see “the end of non-Muslims” for which they used “love jihad and narcotic jihad.”
“They have realized that in a nation like India, taking up weapons and destroying others isn’t easy and thus, they’re using other means,” he added, urging Catholics to be aware of such elements that might destroy their lives and their families.
The bishop also asked Catholic families to protect their girls from love jihad, a term used to accuse young Muslim men of feigning love to marry and convert non-Muslim women. Narcotic jihad targets non-Muslim youth and aims to destroy their lives with drugs, he added.
The remarks led to a public outcry and a social media spat between Christians and Muslims, with the latter demanding an apology from the bishop.
Bishop Kallarangatt in his clarification asserted that his remarks were not against the Muslim community but against those involved in nefarious activities such as terror and refused to tender an apology.
The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, especially the Syro-Malabar Church and a large section of Catholic and other denominations, backed the bishop even after Kerala’s communist Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan criticized him.
The diocese has not yet officially reacted to the first information report (FIR) against its bishop. A legal team, however, under an advocate priest has begun preparation to defend the prelate as he will have to face police interrogation.
Meanwhile, a forum of Catholic laity in a statement defended the prelate, saying “believers are solidly behind the bishop”.
The Almaya Forum of Syro-Malabar Church termed the FIR against the bishop as a “highly condemnable act” and expressed its anguish over the suppression of public voices like Bishop Kallarangatt who spoke for the welfare of everyone.
The forum asserted that well-orchestrated moves were targeting Christian girls in Kerala without naming anyone. It urged the federal and state governments to take action against those working to destroy social harmony and peace in the state.