Indian cardinal George Alencherry (Photo: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images).

KICKING UP a debate, an influential Catholic Church in India’s Kerala has said “Love Jihad is a reality” and alleged that scores of women from Christian community from the southern state were being lured into the trap of Islamic State (IS) and used in terror activities.

The synod of Syro-Malabar Church, an apex body of Catholic Bishops chaired by Cardinal George Alencherry, also accused the state police of not viewing the matter cautiously and taking timely action in Love Jihad cases.

Denying the charges, the Popular Front of India (PFI), an Islamic outfit, questioned the “timing” of the statement and urged the Church to withdraw it immediately “as it would only help create division amid growing unity among various sections of society…”

The Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu outfit welcomed the Church statement and called for a united fight against Love Jihad in Kerala Society.

An official of the Kerala State Womens Commission refused to comment, considering the sensitivity involved in the matter.

There was no immediate reaction from the police and government as well.

“There are circumstances in which Christian girls are killed in the name of Love Jihad in Kerala,” the Synod has alleged in a statement issued through Syro-Malabar Media Commission here on Tuesday (14) night, referring to the attacks against Christians across the world.

The Synod has termed as “shocking” the killing of Christians in Nigeria on Christmas day.
It is a matter of concern that Love Jihad is gaining grounds in Kerala putting in danger its social peace and communal harmony, the Synod said.

“It is a reality that Love Jihad is happening in Kerala in a planned manner targeting Christian girls,” it said.

The Synod, referring to a police record, said out of 21 people who were recruited into Islamic State terror outfit, half of them were converted from Christian faith and it should be an eye opener for the community.

Noting that unofficial accounts say many girls were being used in terror activities through Love Jihad, the Synod said it was a serious matter and such accounts state that Love Jihad is not only “in the imagination”.

The Synod, however, said it was not assessing the Love Jihad as an issue affecting the friendship between religions and urged the government to treat it as one related to law and order and not as a religious matter.

The Church demanded speedy action against the culprits involved in the Love Jihad.

It also called for efforts to sensitise parents and children about the dangers of Love Jihad.

The PFI, often being accused of playing key roles in alleged Love Jihad cases in Kerala, claimed that the state police, after conducting a thorough probe, had earlier submitted a report in the Kerala High Court, stating that there was no cases of Love Jihad in the state.

Former president of the VHP, SJR Kumar claimed that Love Jihad exists in Kerala society.
He alleged that there were centres in Kerala to “convert Hindu and Christian girls who are being lured into the trap of love by youths with criminal backgrounds”.

“We have brought this issue into the attention of the Kerala society much earlier. But nobody listened to us. Now, we are happy that the Bishops have realised the threat of Love Jihad. It is the time of a joint fight against this menace,” Kumar told.

He also alleged that Muslim men trap Hindu and Christian women into marriage and forcing them to convert to Islam.

“The converted Hindu and Christian girls are being used in drug trafficking and terrorism,” Kumar said.