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“It is not right in God’s sight to obey men rather than God.”

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 Congress.

“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,’’ said Kallarackal.

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.