By Shaju Philip

The BJP on Sunday demanded that the Kerala government ban halal food and halal boards in eateries across the state.

The BJP demand comes after claims emerged on social media that the Muslim clergy would spit on food to make it halal. Last week, former VHP state president S J R Kumar had moved the High Court, alleging that halal-certified jaggery was used at Sabarimala temple for preparing prasadam.

Upping the ante on Sunday, BJP state general secretary P Sudheer, addressing the media, claimed that halal is a “social evil” like triple talaq. “The BJP does not believe that halal is a religious practice and doesn’t think that even Islamic scholars would back it. By giving a religious façade for halal, extremist organisations are trying to implement a communal agenda in Kerala society,” he said. Claiming that there is a sudden spurt in halal boards in the state, Sudheer said, “If this is being done on behalf of the religion, scholars should be ready to rectify it.”

Backing Sudheer, BJP state president K Surendran said in Kozhikode that the “halal phenomenon” in Kerala is “neither accidental nor innocent”.

“Certain religious extremists are behind promoting halal culture. Those forces want to divide people of Kerala and foment tension in society. There is a clear agenda behind spreading halal culture,” Surendran said.

P C George, a former leader of regional Christian party Kerala Congress (M), also joined the issue. An ex-legislator, George, who had invited the wrath of Muslim organisations over his anti-community comments in the recent past, on Sunday claimed that halal food is part of religious fundamentalism.

“Spitting on food is mandatory for Muslims. While kneading the dough, they would spit on it three times. The prasadam at Sabarimala should not be used as halal jaggery is used for making it,” he told Christian TV channel Shekinah TV.

Meanwhile, state BJP spokesman Sandeep G Varier, who had earlier appealed for calm and said that Hindus, Muslims and Christians cannot live by “imposing economic siege against one another”, appeared to have changed his tune Sunday after party leaders said his observations would be looked into.

“I have made a personal comment on the issue… But the media wanted to distort it as an anti-party stand. I am withdrawing it as a disciplined party worker,” Varier said.

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