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Strip Converts of Quota Benefits, Demand Tribals

ICC Note:

Low-caste Indian tribes are demanding that Christian converts be denied any benefits the government provides for those with the scheduled tribe category status. They claim that a Supreme Court ruling only allows tribes to enjoy reservation facilities when they practice the tribal religion. (08/24/06) – Jharkhand tribal leaders and priests want immediate stripping of reservation facilities of past members of their community who are now converted Christians.

The tribal group, known as Sarna, has demanded that the reservation facilities provided to tribal Christians be stopped immediately.

The Kendriya Sarna Samiitee (KSS), one of the prominent organisations, has taken the lead in making the demand.

“The tribals who have converted to Christianity should be stripped of the scheduled tribe category status. They should not be given reservation facilities in government jobs and educational institutions,” said Ajay Tirkey, president of KSS.

“The Supreme Court ruling says that the converted tribals can enjoy reservation facilities only when they practise the Sarna tradition. Here converted tribals follow the Christian traditions,” Tirkey said.

The Sarna Samiti cites the examples of the difference between the converts and original tribals.

Supporting the view, Arjun Oraon, another tribal leader, said “The Christian missionaries convert our people allurement and then force them to follow their culture, tradition, mode of prayer and other things.”

He said, “The tribal Christians should not clubbed with us as it will pose danger to our existence. They are provided all facilities by the missionaries and we cannot compete with them. If this continues then the spirit of reservation will not work in our favour.”

The tribals also cited the Supreme Court ruling in case of a tribal girl marrying an upper caste Hindu.

“While the child of that woman loses all facilities provided by the government to tribals, the same should be applied in case of converted Christians as well,” they argued.