Police ask Muslim clerics not to make communal remarks at mosques; Pinarayi disowns notice

Row erupts as police ask Muslim clerics not to make communal speeches in Kerala's Kannur

The LDF government has put a quick lid on an issue that threatened to snowball into a major communal controversy.

A warning notice issued by the station house officer (SHO) of Mayyil Police Station, Kannur, to the secretary of Juma Masjid in Kannur to refrain from communally divisive Friday sermons was potentially provocative. It had the hint that mosques were sources of communal polarisation.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was quick to act. "Such a notice was untimely and against the ideals the LDF government stands for," Vijayan said in a statement on Wednesday. DGP Anil Kant by then had issued an order removing the SHO from his post.

Kannur is the home-town of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The notice was issued in the context of the alleged insult of the Prophet by two BJP spokespersons.

"In the special circumstances in the country relating to the alleged incident in which anti-Prophet remarks made, it is instructed that statements disrupting religious amity or causing communal hatred should not be made in the religious speeches delivered in the mosques under your governance after the juma prayers on Friday. If the police get information about such incidents, legal action will be taken against the persons concerned," the notice issued by the station house officer (SHO), Mayyil, reads. The notice is addressed to the secretary, Juma Masjid.

The Congress was quick to question the thinking behind the directive. KPCC vice president V T Balram questioned the logic behind issuing such a notice since there have been no recent reports of Muslim clerics making communal remarks in their post-prayer speeches. To put things in perspective, he cited the incident in which politician P C George making communal remarks at an event organised by a temple committee at Vennala in Kochi. He also mentioned the remarks made by a bishop about 'narcotic jihad' targetting a community.

"Why were only Muslim mosques served such a directive by the Kerala Police? Will Pinarayi's police serve such a notice to temple committees asking them to restrain hatemongers like Sasikala teacher (Hindu Aikya Vedi president)," Balram said in a Facebook post.

IUML Kannur district general secretary Abdul Kareem Cheleri said the government and the police were targetting the affected party instead of resisting the BJP and Sangh Parivar whose leaders have made remarks insulting the Prophet.

Cheleri said he was informed by the district police chief and the assistant commissioner of police that there was no order from the police top brass to issue such a notice. He urged the chief minister and the ruling CPM to make their stand clear on the incident.

The Chief Minister said that his government did not hold the opinion that divisive sermons were being delivered inside mosques. "This is precisely why action was taken against the concerned officer the moment the issue came to notice," the Chief Minister said. "This is a time when certain forces are attempting to incite communal clashes in the country in a big way. In such a situation it is highly important to safeguard the harmony existing among the faithful, religious institutions and the people at large," the Chief Minister added.

A top source in the Kannur police said that in the wake of the communal flare ups in North India following the utterances of the BJP spokespersons the SHO was asked to orally convey an advice of restraint to those in charge of mosques. "The SHO, in turn, issued a written circular," the officer said. "The SHO has admitted his mistake," the officer said.

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