Church lobs numbers at Das government

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Ranchi, September 14, 2017: All Churches Committee Ranchi (ACCR), an umbrella organisation of churches in the state, today threw numbers at the Raghubar Das government that say the Christian population in Jharkhand and across India is almost static to debunk the state government’s claim that forcible mass conversions necessitated new legislation on religious freedom.

According to ACCR chairman Reverend A.K. Ekka, Census figures show that the Christian population in Jharkhand was 4.10 per cent of the total population in 2001, after the state was born, and 4.30 in 2011. Across India, Christians comprised 2.34 per cent of the total population in 2001 and 2.30 per cent in 2011.

“If these are the kind of growth figures, where are the forcible conversions that the government has alleged missionaries have conducted?” Ekka, who led a six-member delegation this morning to Raj Bhavan to submit to President Ram Nath Kovind a memo on their concerns related to the contentious Jharkhand Religious Freedom Bill, 2017, and Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, said.

“When the CM and his government are saying that the missionaries are forcibly converting tribals, why can’t they show figures to prove their point?” he asked.

The two bills passed by voice vote in the Jharkhand Assembly on August 12 have been slammed by Opposition parties, churches and tribal outfits for their alleged disregard towards the masses, one for chaining religious conversions in draconian rules and the other for doing away with the clause of studying social assessment impact in land acquisition.

The ACCR memo comes a day after the chief minister questioned the motives of missionaries for protesting against the land and religion bills before Ranchi journalists even as in Delhi, the Catholic Bishops Council of India (CBCI) wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to stop Das from spreading “hatred”.

Countering the chief minister, who said missionaries put tribals at the forefront to block development, Ekka said missionaries had been going to the remotest of places for ages to provide education and health services to empower adivasis. “If they (the CM and the government) are targeting Christians and missionaries, it is because they know that if tribals are aware and educated, they can’t be misled.”

ACCR stressed today what it had said in forums earlier, that the two bills would drive a wedge between Christian and Sarna followers in tribal society and dilute tribal rights to land. The memo requested President Kovind to safeguard tribal rights granted to them in the Constitution.

Ekka also pointed to “genuinely frightening figures of displacement” that governments did not speak about.

“In our memorandum, we have said 60 million people have been displaced in the country so far in the name of development of which 10 million are adivasis alone. In Jharkhand, 1.5 million people, mostly adivasis and Dalits, were displaced but merely one-fourth of them were somehow rehabilitated. Many displaced adivasis lost their identity, culture and traditions precisely because there was no social impact assessment provision in the land acquisition Act of 1984. The state government again seeks to remove social impact assessment violating the PESA and forest Acts,” he said.

– telegraph india

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