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07/31/2006 INDIA

Church Tribals' only hope, say Hindu leaders

In a rare example of cooperation, Tribal leaders in the eastern state of Jharkhand urge the Church to intervene to bring unity to Tribals, who have been too often neglected by the political parties founded to protect them.

Hazaribag (AsiaNews) – Several Tribal leaders in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, including pro-Hindu chiefs, have urged the Church to play a "greater role" in local affairs and act with greater freedom and authority in managing the crises and problems affecting Tribal communities in the state. For them, it is the last hope.

Repeated several times in local debates and newspapers, the call is "a rare example of cooperation by Hindus", who in doing so "recognise the significant role played by the Catholic Church".

Salkhan Murmu, who chairs the Adivasi Adhikar Morchia [Tribals'Rights Front], told AsiaNews that "this state [Jharkhand] state was carved out in 2000 with the explicit goal of promoting and protecting the welfare of Tribals [. . .], but no political party in Jharkhand state is addressing the real issues—mainly housing, job quotas, language and land—that concern them."

Murmu, a former lawmaker with the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP (a Hindu nationalist political party and India's largest), added that "the time has come for the Church to actively intervene and help us in fostering unity among Tribals so that they can work together as a single community for their own development".

The Church is urged to act especially since "in India Catholics have always played a key role in areas like health care and education in those parts of the state where the latter exists only on paper".

The former lawmaker is certain "that the Church is the last resource left. It is a proven fact that it is the fulcrum of support for Tribals".

Bandhu Tirkey, an Oraon tribal chief and current member of the state legislature, agrees but warns: "The Church can do a lot, but it must be careful about aligning itself with any one group. Our political leaders are good at asking for material aid and political support only to forget who provided it and why they were elected".

"It is necessary," he added, "for Christian leaders to accurately and scrupulously select whom to support beforehand because many candidates are neither honest nor sincere".

See also

13/09/2005 INDIA
Father Agnos, a tribal Catholic priest, dies a "martyr for peace"
Church leaders in Jharkhand and human rights activists point the finger at Hindu extremists, who are likely responsible for the murder. They and local power barons want to subjugate local Tribals to exploit the wealth of their lands.

20/10/2004 INDIA
A Hindu al-Qaeda, religious fundamentalism as a political tool

We want the government to condemn fanatical organisations and provide minorities much needed legal protection, Catholic leader John Dayal says.

28/08/2008 INDIA
Orissa: killing Christians to stop Tribals and Dalits from developing and achieving dignity
An expert sociologist talks about the motives behind the ongoing waves of violence against Christians—conversion to Christianity, education and emancipation allow Tribals and Dalits to escape slave-like conditions. Hindu fundamentalism is against the search for greater justice and wants to stop ongoing social transformations.

18/12/2004 INDIA
Hindu fundamentalists stage 're-conversions'

03/02/2005 INDIA
Christian Adivasi victims of violence and forced 're-conversions' in Amravati
Mgr Edwin Colaço Bishop of Amravati, speaks out against the death threats and actions of Hindu fundamentalists.

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