Tripura Tribal Rally: Demand for ST Status Review Over Christian Conversion

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Tensions surge in Tripura as the tribal rights body, Janajati Suraksha Mancha, plans a rally on Christmas to demand the removal of Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for tribals who converted to Christianity. Accused of having RSS support, the Mancha asserts that the issue is about addressing perceived dual benefits received by converted individuals.

Demand for Delisting: Unraveling the Controversy

The demand to delist converted tribals dates back to 1966-67, with a memorandum submitted to the prime minister in 1970 based on Joint Parliamentary Committee recommendations. Mancha leaders emphasize that the rally, named “Chalo Delhi,” aims to gather at least five lakh participants to submit a memorandum to the President of India.

The controversy revolves around the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council, housing nearly 30% of the state’s population. Mancha convener Santi Bikash Chakma argues that the preservation of indigenous cultures is compromised by converted tribals, justifying their removal from the ST list.

Opposition and Accusations:

Opposition parties, including the CPM, Congress, People’s Congress, and TIPRA Motha, accuse the Mancha of conspiracy and attempting to incite communal tension. Former minister Naresh Jamatia warns of consequences, emphasizing potential reductions in tribal population and reservation benefits. Congress leader Sudip Roy Barman criticizes the demand as unconstitutional and provocative.

While the ruling BJP and its ally remain silent, TIPRA Motha condemns efforts to divide people along communal lines. Pradyot Kishore expresses concerns about using religion to create divisions among tribals, emphasizing the need for unity. The Tripura Peoples Party denounces the Mancha’s protest call, describing it as a “design and conspiracy” orchestrated by fundamentalist Hindutva forces.

The Christmas rally organized by Janajati Suraksha Mancha stirs controversy in Tripura, raising questions about the delisting of tribals who converted to Christianity. With opposition parties and leaders expressing concerns and accusations, the situation unfolds against a backdrop of political and communal tensions in the region.

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