In a shocking development in Chhattisgarh, a Christian body, namely Isaai Adivasi Mahasabha, in a letter to the Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, has opposed his announcement pertaining to the renaming of Aakashwani Chowk as Baba Kartik Oraon Chowk in Ambikapur of Surguja district in Chhattisgarh.
In the letter that has been submitted to the district magistrate, the Christian body has raised objection against the promise made by the Chief Minister in a program held on April 6 in P G College Ambikapur on the occasion of Sarhul festival and linked it to the abolishment of special constitutional privileges to the tribes.
In the letter dated April 19, 2023, the Christian body claimed that the Chief Minister, in a public gathering, had announced to rename the Aakashwani Chowk of Ambikapur to Baba Kartik Oraon Chowk against which the Isaai Adivasi Mahasabha raised strong objection as despite being a scholar, scientist, politician, founder of the All India Tribal Development Council and an undisputed leader of a large chunk of tribal population, the tribal community as a whole do not accept him as a leader.
Baba Kartik Oraon as a member of the parliament in 1967, had induced a private member bill in the lower house in which he strongly advocated for the delisting of those who had embraced Islam and Christianity within the tribal community, a similar demand currently being raised by the Janjati Suraksha Manch, read the letter further.
The letter further claimed that implementation of delisting would be disastrous for the tribal community as it would more or less affect the constitutional benefits being provided to the tribal community; After the delisting exercise, the fifth schedule of the constitution will no longer apply on the tribal area, laws like PESA will no longer be effective read the letter.
Meanwhile, the Janjati Suraksha Manch, while opposing the move of the Christian body, has demanded the CM to fulfil his promise of renaming the Chowk as Baba Kartik Oraon Chowk.
Speaking with the Organiser, Indar Bhagat co-convener of the Janjati Suraksha Manch, while slamming the Christian body, said that the act of opposing Baba Kartik Oraon is highly condemnable, look at the name of the Christian body which is opposing that, even the name of the group is highly contradictory as Christians and Tribals cannot be associated with each other.
These are the same people who earlier demanded to rename the Chowk as Mother Teresa Chowk; even at that time, we opposed their demand, and now they are opposing a great son of the community Baba Oraon; this act has completely unmasked their true faces before the tribal community, now it’s up to the CM whether he will fulfil his promise or bow down before the pressure of these groups, as far as Janjati Suraksha Manch is the concern we strongly condemn this letter.
Talking about the delisting issue Bhagat further claimed that they (Christians Bodies) are saying that the delisting exercise will curb the reservation benefits for a section of the tribal society who have already embraced any other religion; we want to know what is wrong with it, article 342 of the constitution clearly established that anyone from the tribal community who embraces Islam or Christianity shall no longer be availing the benefits of the reservation slotted to the scheduled tribes, that is the law of the land.
Pointing out to the letter Bhagat further claimed that the Christian groups are claiming that around 10000 Christians are residing in the city; it’s a matter of investigation how many of them are officially converted to Christianity as there are thousands who are practising Christians but the paper they are Hindus, it’s all because they want to avail the benefits provided to schedule tribes, our struggle is to safeguard the rights of the tribal people, and we will make sure that their rights shall not be misused by those who have ditched the community.
He further claimed that in states like Chhattisgarh, the Government caste certificate of tribal people is given only after enquiring about the deities (Gods/Goddess) they worship and the festivals they celebrate.
However, the missionaries who illegally convert the innocent Vanvasi cunningly asked the newly converted ones to fill false details, for instance in a caste certificate converted Christian will be filling Mahadev as his God and Sarhul and Deepawali as his festivals but in general they are worshipping Jesus and celebrating Easter, that is pathetic.
It is to be noted that the tribal-dominated state has witnessed a number of communal flare-ups between the Christian groups and the local Hindu Vanvasi lately, as the growing influence of missionaries has led to many clashes between the groups over the illegal conversion and issues regarding the burial of their deads, these clashes along with growing animosity between the groups over reservation benefits has led the local vanvasi to took out a number of rallies in support of the delisting exercise in the state.