Revoking Reservation Benefits of ST People Converting to Another Religion: RSS Affiliate Organization
The RSS-affiliated Janjati Suraksha Manch demanded on Monday that Scheduled Tribe (ST) reservation benefits be denied to members of the community who convert to another religion.
The Bhopal-based organization said it held rallies in support of its demand in 170 predominantly tribal districts across the country and reached out to 550 parliamentarians from all parties to enlist their support.
“People from the ST community who opt for religious conversion should not get reservations or other benefits that tribals are entitled to. All these benefits should be revoked,” said a senior official of the organization, Sharad Chavan, saying that 80% of those who benefit from the ST quota are converts.
Modeled on Section 341 of the Constitution, under which a reservation was given to Scheduled Caste (SC) communities and which states that a person’s SC status will cease to exist if they undertake religious conversion , there should be amendments to Section 342 of the Constitution relating to Scheduled Tribes.
He further said that ST communities have been living in different parts of the country in smaller and larger groups since time immemorial and claimed that they devoutly observe the “Sanatan tradition”.
Once converted to Islam and Christianity, they abandon their distinct nature-based lifestyles, cultures and festivals. They therefore leave their identity and therefore could be considered a minority but not tribal, Chavan added.
He said this issue of conversion among the tribals was raised by the late Congress leader Kartik Oraon, a former MP from undivided Bihar. He also submitted a memorandum signed by more than 350 lawmakers to the then Congress government led by Indira Gandhi, Chavan said.
He further stated that a related bill was introduced in 1967 and referred to a joint committee of Parliament.
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