By Matters India Reporter
Ranchi: The Jharkhand government seems determined to end reservation benefits for those tribal people who have converted to Christianity or other religions, a newspaper says.
For this, the government would change the format of the official caste certificate issued to indicate the Scheduled Caste category, the Ranchi edition of the Prabhat Khabar, a Hindi language newspaper, reported on June 22.
Currently, all tribal people who possess this certificate, irrespective of their religious affiliations, are eligible to avail the statutory benefits such as free education and reservation in government jobs.
The Jharkhand is now ruled by a coalition government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people’s party), the political arm of rightwing Hindu groups that oppose reservation extended to tribal Christians.
They want the reservation limited only to tribal people who remain in their tradition religions.
The Jharkhand government consulted its advocate general on this matter and was told that only to those who remain in their traditional religion are eligible for the Scheduled Caste (ST) benefits,
“There is a possibility of the government denying the ST benefits to converted Christians,” the newspaper says.
Intelligence agency reports indicate that hundreds of thousands of converted tribal people now enjoy these benefits in Jharkhand as well as in other states. “Even those financially well off continue to avail these benefits,” the newspaper says.
The advocate general also gave its green signal to the government to stop ST benefits to converted tribals in the state.
“Hundreds of thousands of Christians will be affected, if the government brings such a law. Many will lose their government jobs unless they return to Sarna (the tradition religion),” a Catholic lay leader told Matters India on condition of anonymity.