Ranchi (AsiaNews) – In a small village in Jharkhand, food rations have been denied to 13 poor tribal families only because they are Christian. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (Gcic) reported the episode to AsiaNews revealing that in the Indian state, “the right of the poor to food has been denied, utilizing the policies of conversion. The social boycott of people in extreme need is not just a question of human rights or a religious affair, but it wounds the soul of the individual deep inside. “
The case occurred in the village of Rehaladag, in the administrative section of Pasarar, Latehar district. It is a small town of nearly 100 houses where tribes of different ethnicities live: Thakur, Sondik, Sa, Uroon and Bhuyian.
The families in question are of Uroon and Bhuyian origin and converted to Christianity. They hold the food card granted by the state to the deprived persons. Christians report that the problems began in September when the villagers asked them to pay a “tax” of 551 rupees [7 euros] to fund the Hindu festival of Durga Puja. Following their refusal, it was decided that Christians will no longer receive the government subsidies they are entitled to under the conditions of their extreme indigence.
Interviewed by BBC, Vinay, the official in charge of the distribution of food rations, said he had “received a written order with the ban on giving food to those who became Christian.” When asked to clarify who had received the order, he replied: “All 20 people involved in the distribution.”
In Jharkhand tribes account for 26.2% of the population. Of these, about 4.5% are Christians. Sajan K George complains that the conversion of tribals has become the source of their social discrimination. “To give a religious connotation to food subsidies,” he says, “is a discreet discrimination that wants to create division and enmity among tribal groups. This is bad for the tribes themselves. On the contrary, they need to remain united and that they are not tricked by politics because of their conversion. ” In his view, “tribals must remain united to fight against acts that threaten their future, such as amendments to the Land Acquisition Act.” Even the new anti-conversion law, concludes, “wants to polarize them. Instead they have to resist the divisive forces that want to weaken them. “