On Tuesday (August 3), Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment A. Narayanaswamy made it crystal clear in the Lok Sabha that converted members of SC/ST communities will not be eligible for availing benefits under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS). The message was being delivered to Jagan Mohan Reddy’s Andhra Pradesh government that recently issued orders stating non-statutory concessions granted to the Scheduled Castes (Hindus) by the State Government be extended to Scheduled Caste converts to Christian and to Buddhism.
The PIB release stated, “No person who professes a religion different from the Hindu, the Sikh or the Buddhist religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste. The benefits of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) meant for the welfare and development of Scheduled Castes can not be extended to Converted Christians from Scheduled Castes.”
As reported extensively by TFI, Andhra Pradesh has become a major hub of conversion in the country. And according to several reports, the majority of Christian converts (~80 per cent) are from the SC community and have been availing benefits meant for SCs. Allotment of land/house, free electricity, and loans are usurped by the Christian converts vide the 1977 order that extends SC reservation benefits to Christian converts in violation of the constitutional provisions of 1950.
Wrote to @rashtrapatibhvn, @MSJEGOI & @DrRamShankarMP over extension of SC benefits to Christian converts since 1977 in AP & Telangana through GO MS 341 dt 30-08-1977 which arbitrarily divides SC benefits into Statutory & NonStatutory in contravention of Constitutional Provisions
— Legal Rights Protection Forum (@lawinforce) October 26, 2020
The Presidential Order of 1950 states that “only those who profess Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions will be considered as Hindu. The moment an existing SC person stops practising and professing the above religions, he ceases to be an SC and no benefit meant for SCs can be extended to him or her.”
An NGO named Legal Rights Protection Forum (LRPF) last year had written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind evoking the contentious order and demanded that it be scrapped as Christian converts were hogging the benefit schemes meant for the real downtrodden.
LRPF had said that real SC/OBC beneficiaries were deprived because Christians grabbed the benefits using their SC/OBC certificates. As per the data obtained through RTI filed by the NGO, it was revealed that 58.14 per cent of Christian Pastors have Hindu SC community certificates and 13.37 per cent of Christian pastors have Hindu OBC community certificates.
According to LRPF, 70 per cent of the 29,841 Christian pastors who received a one-time government honorarium of Rs.5, 000 through the Disaster Relief Fund hold SC/OBC caste certificates. LRPF obtained the relevant details through an RTI which revealed that a large percentage of Christians who have been baptised and have undergone Pastor Training courses but holding Hindu Caste Certificates have obtained a one-time relief honorarium of Rs. 5,000/- each. Since holding of dual religious identities for government benefits is punishable under law, all the Pastor beneficiaries can be booked, if the government takes action.
YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s explicit pro-Christian stance, in any case, has always been a thorn to bear for the state’s Hindus, whether it be the Savarna class of the SCs. Reddy’s hatred for Hindus has transcended into hatred for Temples which have come under unprecedented attack, thanks to the blind eye turned by the state government.
As reported by TFI, idols of Goddess Sita were found vandalised near Pandit Nehru bus stop in the Sitaram Temple in Vijayawada earlier this year. This came in the backdrop of the idols of Lord Subrahmanya and Shri Ram being desecrated and damaged in the state recently. The Shri Ram idol vandalised at Ramatheertham temple by Hindu-haters was 400-years-old.
Thus, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Jagan government wants to assimilate the Christian converts by diverting the benefits intended for the upliftment of SCs from Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh religions.