In September 13, families did not receive the benefits they are entitled to. The rations cancelled because Christians did not want to pay the fee for a Hindu festival. Sajan K George: "These policies want to divide tribals."
Ranchi (AsiaNews) - In a small village in Jharkhand, food rations have been denied to 13 poor tribal families only because they are Christian. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (Gcic) reported the episode to AsiaNews revealing that in the Indian state, "the right of the poor to food has been denied, utilizing the policies of conversion. The social boycott of people in extreme need is not just a question of human rights or a religious affair, but it wounds the soul of the individual deep inside. "
The case occurred in the village of Rehaladag, in the administrative section of Pasarar, Latehar district. It is a small town of nearly 100 houses where tribes of different ethnicities live: Thakur, Sondik, Sa, Uroon and Bhuyian.
The families in question are of Uroon and Bhuyian origin and converted to Christianity. They hold the food card granted by the state to the deprived persons. Christians report that the problems began in September when the villagers asked them to pay a "tax" of 551 rupees [7 euros] to fund the Hindu festival of Durga Puja. Following their refusal, it was decided that Christians will no longer receive the government subsidies they are entitled to under the conditions of their extreme indigence.
Interviewed by BBC, Vinay, the official in charge of the distribution of food rations, said he had "received a written order with the ban on giving food to those who became Christian." When asked to clarify who had received the order, he replied: "All 20 people involved in the distribution."
In Jharkhand tribes account for 26.2% of the population. Of these, about 4.5% are Christians. Sajan K George complains that the conversion of tribals has become the source of their social discrimination. "To give a religious connotation to food subsidies," he says, "is a discreet discrimination that wants to create division and enmity among tribal groups. This is bad for the tribes themselves. On the contrary, they need to remain united and that they are not tricked by politics because of their conversion. " In his view, "tribals must remain united to fight against acts that threaten their future, such as amendments to the Land Acquisition Act." Even the new anti-conversion law, concludes, "wants to polarize them. Instead they have to resist the divisive forces that want to weaken them. "
Security officers and Hindu extremists stormed a place of worship in Satna, arresting 10 people including the pastor and the groom's parents. He is accused of having converted the pair illegally to Christianity and celebrating a marriage between minors. Christian leaders: "This is abuse of anti-conversion laws".
Conversions made by force or under coercion for material gain forbidden. Penalty up to three years in jail and 50,000 fine rupees; Bigger penalties if you try to convert young girls or tribal women. Over the past 10 years, in Jharkhand, the Hindu population has grown by 21%; Christians by 29.7%, Muslims by 28.4%. For Hindu nationalists, there are "forces that trying to destroy society which has indulged conversions for too long." Pro-tribal party critical. Sobering Muslim response. Card. Toppo: We are free people. No one can force another to convert.
Catholics, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims demonstrated against the Jharkhand Freedom Religious Bill 2017 and the Land Acquisition Act 2013 amendments, the rule that protected tribal lands. Now these lands will be sold out to the best bidder. The anti-conversion law "used to divert attention" from economic interests.
A college that hosted tribal students since 1997 closed. The police arrived with five trucks full of Hindu extremists, scaring the children. The college is accused of forced conversions. Sajan K George: "Nationalists are against Catholics because they want to continue to exploit dalit and tribal."
The radicals belong to the group of extreme right-wing Hindu Vahini. They accuse Christians of wanting to convert the groom, of Hindu religion. The couple was forced to postpone the wedding and celebrate with a Vedic ritual. The state has a law against forced conversions that discriminates against minorities.