Narcotic Jihad row: Sudhakaran, Satheesan meet priests, initiate conciliatory efforts

K Sudhakaran, VD Satheesan
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President K Sudhakaran and Opposition Leader in the Assembly V D Satheesan

Kottayam: KPCC chief K Sudhakaran and Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan, on Thursday met senior priests of Christian and Muslim communities as part of the opposition party's effort to bridge the gap created between two communities following the controversial "narcotic jihad" remarks by Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of the Pala diocese.

Both Sudhakaran and Satheesan visited archbishop Jopeph Perumthottam at Changanassery archdiocese in the morning before meeting 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 in Kottayam.

Sudhakaran also visited Pala Bishop at his diocese. However, Satheesan, who severely criticised the Bishop's controversial statement did not accompany Sudhakaran to meet him in Pala.

Talking to reporters here, Satheesan said the initiative has been taken to bring peace among communities.

Sudhakaran accused the ruling Left government of doing nothing for resolving the issue.

Speaking about the move, the KPCC chief said the Congress party has a moral responsibility to protect secularism in the society.

Meanwhile, Jose K Mani, leader of Kerala Congress (M), which is a major constituent of the CPM-led LDF visited Pala Bishop at his diocese and offered his party's support to him.

Justifying the Bishop's "narcotic jihad" remarks, Mani said the priest was talking only about the social menace of drugs.

Earlier in the morning, Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi also called on Pala Bishop and said there was no need to be concerned about anything as Kallarangatt had not referred to any particular religion nor did he make a statement which could cause religious discord.

The Congress leaders' move comes after the the BJP tried to reap political benefits by supporting the Bishop on the matter.

After meeting the Bishop in Pala on Monday, BJP national executive member P K Krishnadas had alleged that the Congress and the CPM were taking a position in favour of extremist elements creating trouble in society, instead of addressing the issue raised by the senior Catholic priest.

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.

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