Catholic youth organisation announces screening of Kerala Story to express solidarity with Idukki Diocese

Photo: Manorama News

Kozhikode: The Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM) under the Diocese of Thamarassery said it is planning to screen "Kerala Story -- a movie on right-wing conspiracy 'love jihad' -- in all its units to express solidarity with the Diocese of Idukki.
"We made the announcement because the media and others were hounding the Idukki Diocese for screening the movie. But we will make a decision on Friday," said Father George Vellackakudiyil, director of KCYM and Syro-Malankara Youth Movement (SMYM) under Thamarassery Diocese.

KCYM is an umbrella organisation for youths of three Catholic rites -- Latin Church, Syro-Malabar Church and Syro-Malankara Church in Kerala. It is also an official organisation under the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC).

Father Vellackakudiyil (34) said Kerala Story, directed by Sudipto Sen, might be fictitious but KCYM has rescued young Catholic women from abusive inter-faith marriages. "We are particularly concerned when daughters are forced to convert to marry and when parents are denied access to their daughters in interfaith relationships," said Fr Vellackakudiyil.

Thamarassery Diocese's jurisdiction is spread across Kozhikode and Malappuram districts in north Kerala. Idukki Diocese screened the adult-rated movie for Sunday school students of Classes 10, 11 and 12 on April 2, 3, and 4. (As per the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) classification, A-certified movies are restricted only to adult audiences. Anyone exhibiting an A-certified film to a minor may end up with a penalty of Rs 10,000 for every such screening once the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill 2022 passes the parliament hurdle. Lok Sabha passed the bill on July 27, 2023. According to the existing law, the punishment is Rs 10,000 or a jail term of up to three years.)

Fr Jins Karakkat, chairman of the Idukki Diocese Media Commission, the movie was screened as part of their intensive training programme held during vacation. "The theme of the textbooks prepared for the children of classes 10, 11, and 12 was love relationships," he said.

Nowadays, there are circumstances in which teenagers fall in love and face dangers, he said. "So, we intended to create awareness among our children about such dangers," said the Idukki Diocese official.

Love jihad is an Islamophobic rightwing conspiracy, and the Ministry of Home Affairs has not defined the term. In February 2020, junior Home Minister G Kishan Reddy in a reply to Congress member Benny Behanan told the Lok Sabha that there was no case of love jihad in Kerala. 

In 2018, NIA too looked into the conspiracy theory against the backdrop of the Hadiya case and could not find any evidence of Muslim men luring women with love from other religions to forcefully convert them to Islam.

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