The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh seeking a report regarding the action taken against the forceful conversions targeting the Scheduled Caste (SC) community in the state.
In January 2020, the Hindu legal-activist group – Legal Rights Protection Forum and SC-ST Rights Forum, a non-profit legal activism organisation that works for Dalit rights, had written a letter to National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) over rampant forced conversions activities by the Christian missionaries and Church.
In the complaint letter, the Hindu activist groups had alleged that the Churches have been targeting people belonging to the Scheduled Caste community in the state and had contended that there has been a misuse of reservations for the Scheduled Caste community. The group had sought a Fact-Finding Committee for remedial action.
Submitted a Representation to the National SC Commission over Large Scale Christian Conversions by the Church targeting people of Scheduled Castes in Andhra Pradesh & misuse of SC Reservations.— Legal Rights Protection Forum (@lawinforce) January 7, 2020
Sought a Fact Finding Committee to be constituted for remedial action. pic.twitter.com/Gds1AoxtS8
According to the report by Commune, in the complaint written by the activist group, they had said the large scale religious conversions are leading to social strife, law and order issues in the villages, and families are getting torn apart.
The letter stated that the situation is such that the term “Scheduled Castes” and “Christians” have become synonymous. Citing an RTI query about the selection of beneficiaries for the Andhra government’s scheme “Chandranna Christmas Kanuka”, the complainant said that the government officials in Andhra Pradesh had said that they consider the entire SC population as Christians even as the scheme is meant only for Christians.
The complainant also pointed out the anomaly in the demographic data of the number of Christians in the state based on the report titled “What happened to the Christians of Andhra Pradesh?” published by the Centre for Policy Studies. The data showed a sharp decline in those who declared their religion as Christianity between 1971 and 2011.
According to the complainant, even though they practise Christianity, the Christians are obtaining Hindu caste certificates to take advantage of the reservation benefits. The activist group said that Christian missionaries indulge in aggressive proselytisation and incite the Scheduled Caste people towards secessionism by forcing the converts into swearing loyalty to extra-constitutional and extra-territorial religious heads.
#Breaking— SC ST RIGHTS FORUM (@SCSTForum) July 20, 2021
Following our representation based on data provide by LRPF @lawinforce, the National Scheduled Castes Commission issued notice to Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh seeking action taken report within 15 days in the matter of Christian Conversions targeting SC community https://t.co/qFchvG4INE pic.twitter.com/JPns90Lchr
In response to the complaint, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has taken cognizance of the letter and has assured to look into the matter and take necessary action against the rampant conversion activities by the church in Andhra Pradesh.
The NCSC has asked the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh to submit a report on the action taken against the large scale conversion activities in the state in the next 15 days.
Andhra Pradesh village passes resolution against religious conversions
In a significant step to prevent the Scheduled Castes (SC) community from getting lured by Christian missionaries to convert to Christianity, the Gurujala village in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh had passed a resolution to take steps to protect the Dalits from forceful religious conversion.
One of the resolutions passed by the Gram Sabha is to remove an unauthorised church constructed through foreign funding from the Christian organization International Mission Board (IMB). According to the villagers, the converts to Christianity were seeking to expand the illegally built Church by constructing a compound wall. The villagers had said that if the Church is expanded as planned, it will hamper the rituals and celebrations in a Shiva temple nearby.
The villagers of Gurujala has passed five resolutions at Gram Sabha recently to prevent Christian missionaries conversion activities in the surrounding areas of the village.
(2/3):— Legal Rights Protection Forum (@lawinforce) July 16, 2021
2. To carry on proper survey on who is Christian, Hindu and Muslim and enter the same in Public Records
3. Recommendations to revenue officials to issue BC-C (SC convert to Christianity) Certificates to persons who converted to Christianity out of SC Community.
In its resolution, the Gram Sabha has also decided to undertake a registration exercise to document the number of Hindus, Muslims, Christians and enter them into the public record. The villagers also decided to ask the revenue officials to issue BC-C (SC convert to Christianity) Certificates to persons who converted to scheduled caste converts to Christianity.
The other two resolutions passed by the Gram Sabha are – no religious structure will be allowed to be constructed in future unless the Gram Sabha approves the same with a 51% majority and giving priority to Scheduled Castes in all social and cultural festivals and temple activities in the village.
Realising the dangerous menace of conversion activities by Christian missionaries, the villagers had also written a letter to President of India Ramnath Kovind seeking action against the illegally constructed IMB Church in the village to convert Scheduled Caste communities.