The tribal Christians population has criticised what they have perceived to be the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s divisive policies, slamming chief minister Raghubar Das’ recent remarks on the religious conversion of tribals in the state.
The Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh (RIM), a socio-religious body of the Christian community spread across several states, on Sunday accused the state of fuelling rifts between the Sarna and Christian tribals and demeaning the social service that missionaries have done in the state.
Tribals form 26.2% of the state population, and around 4.5% are Christians, with the remaining following the Sarna code, according to the RIM.
“Do they (the government) want us to stop serving society? Relating social service that we do to religious conversion is not only shameful, but also an effort to polarise tribals,” said RIM national general secretary Prabhakar Tirkey.
The RIM organized a gathering on Sunday in Ranchi to spread their message to the tribal Christians, urging the community to maintain unity and harmony between the tribals.
“We stand united against all divisive forces. We hope that all of you will support us and stand united against such forces,” said Deepak Tirkey, a senior office bearer of RIM.
Das has been speaking on the issue of conversion of tribals at government and party events for nearly a week now. During gram sabha meetings in Pakur and Dumka on October 19 and 20 respectively, Das said those found converting tribals would be severely dealt with and appealed to the tribals to desist from the practice.
His remarks have drawn flak from different corners of society. An IAS officer too raised her voice, taking to Facebook to question whether tribals had no right to choose their religion.
The debate over conversion of tribals has gained momentum after various tribal bodies have protested against the government’s proposals to amend the state’s Tenancy Acts, with tribal leaders and activists say that the government is trying to create rifts between tribals to weaken the movement against its proposed changes.