A committee will be formed to investigate the current benefits availed by those members of the scheduled tribes (ST) who have left the Sanatan fold and embraced Christianity or Islam in Maharashtra, informed skill development minister of Maharashtra, Mangal Prabhat Lodha on Thursday, December 14.
The matter would be put before the Chief Minister (CM) Eknath Shinde, Deputy CM, Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy CM, Ajit Pawar following which a committee would be set up headed by a university vice-chancellor. The committee will have members from all the political parties who will enquire about the cases of tribal (Janjati/ Vanvasi) conversion, added Lodha.
Further, the skill development minister informed that the committee would submit its report within 45 days and would also inquire into the cases cited by the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) legislator, Niranjan Davkhare. Lodha was responding to a calling attention motion moved by BJP legislator Davkhare and Pravin Darekar in Maharashtra council, demanding removal of those Janjatis from the ST list who have embraced Christianity and Islam.
Earlier, during the discussion on the subject of de-listing of those members of the Janjati community who have embraced a different faith the BJP legislator claimed that the converted Janjati members are availing benefits given to both minorities and scheduled tribes.
According to the reports, the issue witnessed a heated debate between the members of the BJP and the opposition leaders, who are of the opinion that the members of scheduled tribes have a right to decide whom they will worship and that the proposed de-listing exercise would lead to religious discrimination.
Reports of illegal conversion of Janjatis.
It is worth mentioning here that numerous reports of illegal conversion of the members of the Janjati community through the means of lure and inducement have been coming to the fore on a regular basis. This includes conversion promoted through the means of fallacy and promises of providing health care facilities, education, jobs and money.
Additionally, cases of conversion through the means of providing rations and luring innocent girls of the community by hiding the original identity have also been reported in large numbers across the Janjati-dominated regions of Bharat.
Demand of Delisting
It is pertinent to mention here that the Janjati community across different states of Bharat has been hitting the streets in support of a nationwide delisting exercise to identify those among the community who have changed their religion but still own a scheduled tribe certificate and avail themselves of the benefits of the reservation. Many of such rallies have also been held in the state of Maharashtra, where the Janjati community constitutes a significant 9 per cent of the total population of the state.
Earlier, while expressing his views on the matter, Sharad Chauvhan, media coordinator of the Janjati Suraksha Manch, informed that the demand of a nationwide delisting exercise is the need of the hour and the Janjati society have organised as many as 231 raliies across different states supporting the cause of delisting. Our demand is clear: those who have converted to any other religion other than those originated in Bharat should not avail the benefits exclusively reserved for the Janjatis.
It is to be noted that the demand for delisting is one of the long-pending issue pertaining to the tribal community, many of whose leaders have been seen raising it vocally. This includes greats likes Baba Kartik Oraon who also supported the cause of a nationwide identification process to safeguard the rights exclusively given to the tribal community.