In a controversial move, the Janajati Suraksha Manch (JSM), a tribal organization in Tripura, has called for a rally on Christmas demanding the delisting of tribals who converted to Christianity from the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. This initiative has triggered strong reactions from opposition parties, including the CPI(M), Congress, People’s Congress, and TIPRA Motha.
Unconstitutional and Provocative Demand
During a rally organized by the Gana Mukti Parishad, a tribal organization affiliated with the CPI(M), leaders condemned the JSM’s demand to delist tribals who embraced Christianity. They labeled the demand as “illogical, unconstitutional, and unjustified.” Naresh Jamatia, a leader of Gana Mukti Parishad, expressed concerns that such a move would adversely impact the tribal population, leading to a reduction in their tribal identity, reservation benefits, and overall representation in various sectors.
Political Backing and Communal Tensions
The CPI(M) leaders accused the JSM of being backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), implying a political agenda behind the demand. They cautioned against decisions to delist tribals based on religious conversion, deeming it a suicidal step. The CPI(M) leader highlighted the historical significance of Constitutional safeguards for tribal interests, particularly the tribal regional autonomy under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution.
Opposition’s Stance on the Demand
Sudip Roy Barman, a Congress Working Committee (CWC) member, criticized the demand as an attempt to disturb peace and incite ethnic discord in Tripura. He alleged unconstitutional and provocative motives behind the demand and called for the immediate cancellation of the JSM rally. Barman urged the state government to focus on real development issues faced by tribals, such as education, healthcare, safe drinking water, and electricity.
TIPRA Motha’s Criticism
TIPRA Motha, a regional party, also criticized the efforts to divide people on communal lines. Party chief Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma expressed concerns about using religion to create divisions among the tribals. He emphasized the need for unity and questioned the motives behind attempting to divide people based on religious lines.
Government’s Silence and Pending Amendments
There has been no official reaction from the ruling BJP and the state government. However, opposition leaders are demanding a response. Additionally, there are calls for the state government to pass the pending 125th amendment in the Assembly, facilitating direct funding from the central government to the Tripura ADC. There are also appeals to introduce Article 371 to grant special status for the protection of tribal rights.