Kerala to commence anti-narcotic drive on Sunday, Churches seethe

Pinarayi Vijayan | File Photo: Manorama
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan during the press meet on Monday, August 1, 2022. PHOTO: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday stated that the anti-narcotic campaign will be launched on October 2, Sunday, as planned.

He was responding to the allegations by Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council and other churches that state government had a penchant for keeping public programmes on Sundays, and that the trend was affecting the participation at church programmes.

"October 2nd is significant in many ways. We understand the practical difficulties faced by the community. But we appeal to the public to cooperate," the Chief Minister said.

Meanwhile, Education Minister V Sivankutty said that Sunday was chosen to launch the campaign as it was Gandhi Jayanti.

In its battle on drug menace, the Kerala government on Friday said it plans to start an anti-narcotic campaign as a part of the curriculum to create awareness on addiction among students.

Marthoma Church voices protest after KCBC

The Marthoma Church has also voiced their protest at the government decision to hold the anti-narcotic campaign on Sunday. The Church requested the government to postpone it while expressing its support for the same. 

Earlier the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) had released a press note against the government decision. 

"For Christians, Sundays have much religious significance," noted the KCBC in a press note. "The state cabinet has decided to conduct various programmes for students and government employees this Sunday (October 2) to mark Gandhi Jayanti.

Special masses are held on Sundays by most Catholic denominations, including the Syro-Malabar Church. Catechism or religious instruction classes for Christian children are often held on Sundays.

"Earlier, no official programmes were held on Sundays. But of late the trend is to  forcibly introduce events on Sundays," the KCBC said.

The Syro-Malabar Church Public Affairs Commission also said that launching the campaign on Sunday will cause difficulty for churchgoers.

The campaign

Ahead of the launch of the awareness campaign on October 2, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan met representatives of religious and community organisations here seeking their support to efforts to prevent the young from taking to drugs.

Making the campaign a part of the curriculum was under consideration of the government, a CMO release said.

All religious and communal organisations have expressed support to the campaign, it added.

In light of new methods being discovered for addiction, the Chief Minister said in addition to the anti-narcotic drive being carried out by the enforcement agencies of the government, public participation was essential to tackle the menace. He appealed to the religious organisations to mobilise people in great numbers for the campaign. 

The Chief Minister urged such organisations to spread anti-drug messages on special occasions and to students attending Sunday schools, madrassas and other moral educational institutions. 

"Everyone should come together without any prejudice to secure the future of the country and its children," he said. 

Pinarayi Vijayan said counsellors would be appointed in the schools and efforts would be made to find teachers capable of addressing the drug menace. "If you see that any child under the influence of drugs, you should inform the concerned people without concealing about the addiction. Victimised children should be encouraged to live with self-respect. Active participation of students and youth organisations will also be ensured in the fight against drugs," the Chief Minister said. 

More de-addiction centres would be opened in the State, he said. 

Details of people providing information about drug addicts would be kept confidential. He directed the artiste community, too, not to give a heroic colour to drug-users in any form of art.

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