Prohibition takes communal turn: Hindu groups question Kerala govt decision
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The debate over
‘liquor-free-Kerala’ has taken a communal turn with two powerful Hindu organisations
questioning the decision, while leaders of Christian and Muslim communities
have given cheers to the Congress government.
Vellappally Nateshan, leader of a backward Hindu
organisation Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, had stated that the
decision would hit his community members engaged in liquor business.
Taking on the Catholic Bishops, who threatened to
bring down the Congress government if steps for prohibition were not initiated,
Nateshan poised whether the Church was ready to abandon the use of wine during Holy
Mass. He said that those already closed bars belonged to Hindus and the working
ones to Christians.
On Saturday, another influential Hindu leader G
Sukumaran Nair, general secretary of upper class Hindu outfit Nair Service
Society, joined the issue. Nair said the government decision was impractical.
The decision for liquor-free Kerala stemmed from the rivalry within the
“This is an outcome of the battle to enhance one’s
image. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was forced to succumb to the pressure from
its allies Kerala Congress (a regional Christian party) and Indian Union Muslim
League. A practical approach to enlighten people to abstain liquor is required
to address the liquor menace,’’ Nair said.
Archbishop Francis Kallarackal said Nateshan’s comment
on use of wine at church smacked communalism. “Wine is used in Mass as part of
Christian faith. That practice would continue until the end of the world,’’
Jamaat-Islami Kerala Ameer T Arifali said the
government should have the courage to implement the decision to close down the
bar hotels. The bar lobby would try every trick to defeat the government
decision, he said.
Christian and Muslim outfits in Kerala have been on
the forefront of agitations demanding complete prohibition. Their community
leaders have stood behind Congress state president VM Sudheeran in the issue.
In the recent years, new three-star bar hotels have
been coming up in Muslim-dominated North Kerala region. While younger Muslims
wanted to drink, the religion was vehemently opposed to their plan. In the past
two years, Muslim groups have forced a couple of bar hotels, owned by
non-Muslims, to close down in North Kerala.