Kochi: The Kerala Catholic Bishop Council, in what is seen as a trenchant rejection of both Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports, has called upon the believers in the state to vote only for those who can ensure the protection of ordinary farmers living in fear along the Western Ghats. This is the sixth of the seven commandments issued by the KCBC in a pastoral letter issued on Wednesday. The two-page letter, which comes on the eve of State’s discussion with the MoEF on the Kasturirangan issue, says that for Catholics environment protection is a way of life. “But at the same time we should also be able to correct attempts to protect flora and fauna at the expense of humans,” the letter says.
The Catholic Church had refused to soften its stand even after the Kasturirangan panel reworked the controversial zonation system proposed by the Madhav Gadgil committee. Thamarassery Bishop Remegiose Inchananayil had even gone to the extent of saying that even the relatively lighter controls imposed by Kasturirangan panel as a “life and death issue” and had even served a veiled threat to the UDF. At the height of the Mullaperiyar agitation, too, the KCBC had whipped up local fears.
Although the circular had called to vote for persons protecting the interest of settlers in connection with Kasturirangan Report, the CPM in Kerala may not be able to take advantage of it as the circular called for rejecting those propagating ‘atheism and violence’. “Persons elected should not be tainted with corruption”, the circular said and added that “those imposing atheism and violence on others should not be elected”.
Stressing the need for voting persons committed to secular traditions, the circular called upon the believers to vote for persons known for protecting the interests and well being of the minority communities. Votes should be given to persons committed to protecting secularism and capable of ensuring the safety and security of linguistic and religious minorities as well as treating all religions on an equal footing, the circular said. The circular drafted by Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, the president of KCBC, will be read out in all Catholic churches during the Sunday mass on March 9.