A senior bureaucrat in Jharkhand has taken on chief minister Raghubar Das over his comments on religious conversion of tribals, even as the government is set to probe ‘diversion’ of foreign funds by NGOs for ‘evangelisation’.
Amid controversy over missionary activities in the tribal-majority state, the CM ordered a CID investigation after state intelligence found dubious financial deals by at least 106 Christian-affiliated NGOs, sources said on Saturday.
The funds ‘diverted’ under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act are estimated to be Rs 310 crore, according to a Special Branch report.
A bulk of the money meant for education and improvement of the poor, especially nature-worshipping tribals who form 26% of the state’s 3.3-crore population, was used for conversions through force and allurements, it added.
The government will not tolerate “luring gullible tribals”, the CM said recently. Those “involved in conversion” were inciting a protest against the state’s bid to amend two tenancy Acts, he added.
This triggered a rare public opposition by a government official. Panchayati Raj secretary Vandana Dadel protested in social media, asking if tribals had no right to choose religion with respect.
“Why all of a sudden have people started thinking about the religion of tribals?” said a Facebook post of tribal Christian Dadel, an IAS officer of the 1996 batch.
Social workers, too, are protesting. “These are all gimmicks and false allegations,” tribal activist Ratan Tirkey told HT. “NGOs could be siphoning money, but they are not into conversions.”
Premchand Murmu of the Adivasi Buddhijivi Manch said bigger churches of the 16 Christian denominations in Jharkhand “never indulge” in conversions.
Opposition politicians, too, are not amused. “The CM is trying to create communal divide,” said former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay of the Congress. “He is threatening the minority community to divert attention of the people from his failures.”
(With agency inputs)