Jharkhand: IAS officer Vandana Dadel questions CM’s statement on religious conversion

Ranchi, Oct 22 :  Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das’ statement on religious conversion of tribals at an official programme has been questioned by a senior state IAS officer Vandana Dadel in a Facebook post.

In her Facebook post in Hindi, Dadel wrote: “A question arises in the mind when questions are raised during an official programme about the religion of tribals, and on religious conversion. Does a tribal have no right to choose a religion of his/her choice with respect. Why all of a sudden have people started thinking about the religion of tribals? The fact is that the society is suffering from many other serious issues like malnutrition, illiteracy, unemployment.”

When IANS tried to contact Dadel, the Panchayati Raj Secretary, her mobile was switched off. She is an offcer of the 1996 batch.

The officer’s Facebook post of October 20 at 2315 hrs was made the same day the Bharatiya Janata Party Chief Minister, during an official programme in Dumka, raised the conversion issue. Dadel was present when the Chief Minister raised the issue.

Das, heading a BJP-led alliance in the state, had claimed that those “involved in conversions” of tribals were inciting the protest against the state’s bid to amend the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNTA) and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPTA). Das’s frequent statement had not gone down well among the Christian community and leaders protesting the land amendments.

Das raised the conversion issue days after a rally held to protest his government’s move to amend the two land acts meant to protect rights of the tribal and indigenous.

Two days before Das’ statement a tribal organisation had called an Akrosh rally to protest the amendments proposed in the acts.

The BJP government in Jharkhand has brought an ordinance to amend the Chotangapur Tenancy (CNT) and Santhal Pargana Act (SPT). After the ordinance is cleared by the President of India, agricultural land could be acquired for non-agricultural purposes and also be acquired for roads, the power sector and other works.

The Chief Minister has at least four to five times raised the conversion issue. He also said anyone involved in religious conversion would be punished.

The political leaders and tribal leaders have condemned the statement.

“Raghubar Das is trying to create communal divide and threatening the minority community to divert attention of the people from his failures,” Subodh Kant Sahay, former Central Minister and Congress leader, told IANS.