June 14, 2024

The Scoop India

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The call of time is that delisting law should be brought!!

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Ask a question or ruckus is currently brewing in many states of India. Tribal or Scheduled Tribe people are angry and the reason for this is an old issue. Actually the year was 2022, big rallies were being held in Dhar, Jhabua, Alirajpur, Ratlam Barwani districts of Madhya Pradesh. There were bows and arrows in his hands. Some had half their body naked and some had a towel around their neck. Even in the 40 to 44 degree scorching afternoon, thousands of people from the tribal community were knocking at the district headquarters demanding delisting. After this, this matter moved from Madhya Pradesh to many states including Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and one word was heard everywhere – delisting-delisting.

For example, in the scorching heat, these people were demanding that the tribals who had accepted Christianity or other religions should be removed from the list of Scheduled Tribes. That means they should be delisted from reservation. This demand was for recognition or due to the tradition of worshiping their local clan deities. But everyone knows that the people of tribal tribes have their own traditional family deities or family deities. These people have been worshiping their folk deities for thousands of years. But in the last few years, suddenly in the name of a so-called God of Europe, these simple people are getting trapped in the clutches of missionaries. Where till a few years ago they used to believe in their gods and goddesses. Suddenly hut-like churches built in poor backward areas are being seen there. These people have been converted. Now these people have become Christians. But even by doing so, these so-called Christians are taking the benefits given to the tribal society by the Indian Constitution. This is the only list, “from where they are taking benefits and the rest of the people are protesting that they should be delisted i.e. they should not be given benefits anymore.”

But the game is not just about that. In fact, the privileges given to the tribal class have been ensured in the Constitution for their backwardness and empowerment. Its basis is purely tribal identity. Which is defined in Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution. The case of delisting stands on the foundation of this constitutional provision. But conversion has spoiled the sacred purpose of the Constitution. Like till now the names of tribal society are like Ramtopano, Mahadev Munda, Durgavati Oraon but from inside these people have started considering themselves as Peter, Samuel, Chelsea. Not only are they understanding, but in the north-eastern states including Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, people who have become Christians or Muslims through conversion are taking advantage of 80 percent of the share of the tribal class.

People of Jhabua even say that the interference of missionaries in the tribal society has become so much that even the traditions are feeling threatened. Eighty percent conversion has been done in many villages and everyone from the village Anganwadi to teachers, nurses, Patwari village assistants, salesmen, Panchayat secretaries are nominal tribes that have emerged from the shadow of missionaries but in reality they are all Christians. Even today, those people have maintained themselves as a tribe in their documents so that they can continue to get the benefits of reservation for the tribal category.

But the question is not just that, now understand the mix of politics in it also. How was this agenda allowed to succeed? Because the issue of delisting is not of today. Baba Karthik Oraon, the former Civil Aviation and Communications Minister of the country, had understood this crisis of tribal identity in the 70s itself. Therefore, in 1967, he presented the Scheduled Tribes Order Amendment Bill in the Parliament. The Joint Committee of Parliament carefully examined this bill and gave its recommendations on 17 November 1969. The main recommendation among them was that any person who has renounced tribal beliefs and beliefs and converted to Christianity or Islam will not be considered a member of the Scheduled Tribe.

That is, after conversion, that person will have to be deprived of the facilities available under Scheduled Tribe. Despite the recommendation of the Joint Committee, this bill was not debated in Parliament for a year. It is said that there was tremendous pressure from the Christian Mission on the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to oppose this bill. 50 members of Parliament under the influence of Christian Mission wrote a letter to Indira Gandhi to reject this bill.

Baba Karthik, who won the election by contesting from Congress, came from the Oraon tribal community. But without caring about his political career, he put his political future at stake in protest against this campaign and gave a letter signed by 322 Lok Sabha members and 26 Rajya Sabha members to Indira Gandhi, in which it was insisted that she would support the bill. Accept the recommendations, because it is a matter of life and death for three crore forest dwellers. But an effective campaign by Christian missionaries was going on behind the scenes. As a result the bill was shelved.

The matter is not just this, on 16 November 1970, the debate on this bill started in the Lok Sabha. On the same day, the Christian Chief Ministers of Nagaland and Meghalaya reached Delhi to exert pressure. There were two Christian ministers of state in the cabinet. He also made a strategy of pressure. Due to this, on November 17, the government presented an amendment that the recommendations of the joint committee should be removed from the bill. Even on the morning of the debate, Congress issued a whip to its MPs asking them to oppose the recommendations of the Joint Committee included in the Bill. Karthik Oraon spoke for 55 minutes on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee. The atmosphere became such that even the members of Congress came into the mindset of voting in support of the recommendations of the Joint Committee, as opposed to the Whip. If this bill had been passed, it would have been a historic event! Sensing the situation, Indira Gandhi stopped the debate on this bill and said that there would be a debate on it on the last day of the session. But this was not to happen. Lok Sabha was dissolved on 27th December and Congress gave tacit consent to the conversion of forest dwellers.

Baba Karthik used to tell the Oraon forest dwellers that thousands of years before Christ, there were Nishadraj, Mata Shabari, Kannappa etc. in the community of forest dwellers, hence we were always Hindus and will remain Hindus. We were born Hindus and will die Hindus. But the bill did not come, the result is how terrible it has become today in 70 years. 67 percent of the total tribal representation in the health sector is made up of Christians and people who have converted to other religions. About 69 percent of the reservation in the education sector is being availed by people who have converted through missionaries under the guise of tribe. According to an estimate, up to 70 percent of people who have converted to Christianity and Islam are taking benefits of tribal quota.

Even though Indira Gandhi may have ignored Karthik Oraon and 348 MPs under the pressure of the Christian lobby, now the issue of delisting has arisen across the country. If the government of the country becomes vocal on this, then the existence of forest dwelling society will survive in many states. Otherwise their next generation will forget their family deities and start considering Jesus as their God. That is, the demand for delisting is justified, but still why are the major political parties of the country silent on a serious issue like delisting in reservation?

By Rajeev Choudhary

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