‘Want like-minded peo­ple to head in­sti­tutes’

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - Front Page - B Vi­jay Murty bmurty@hin­dus­tan­times.

The BJP and its ide­o­log­i­cal foun­tain­head RSS would like to see more peo­ple who subscribe to their ide­ol­ogy at the helm of ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions in Jhark­hand, where the party is in power.

A meet­ing of the BJP and its af­fil­i­ates held in Ranchi dur­ing the visit of party pres­i­dent Amit Shah on Satur­day dis­cussed the is­sue of “re­li­gious con­ver­sions at schools and col­leges run by Chris­tian mis­sion­ar­ies and de­cided to press the state gov­ern­ment to check their growth,” said an RSS leader who at­tended the close door meet­ing.

It was agreed at the meet­ing top press the BJP-led gov­ern­ment of chief min­is­ter Raghubar Das to scrap af­fil­i­a­tion of ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions that are al­legedly di­rectly or in­di­rectly en­gaged in re­li­gious con­ver­sion, he said.

Be­sides the BJP and RSS, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of ABVP, Seva Bharati, Vid­hya Bharati and VHP at­tended the meet­ing that was chaired by Shah.

“The meet­ing em­pha­sised on im­prov­ing the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion in both ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas by deput­ing of­fi­cials who be­lieve in Sangh’s ide­ol­ogy at the helm of the ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions,” said the RSS leader, who spoke on con­di­tion on anonymity.

His­tor­i­cally, Chris­tian mis­sion­ar­ies have had a strong pres­ence in Jhark­hand. They ran most of the prom­i­nent schools and col­leges in the state, un­til the gov­ern­ment ex­panded its ed­u­ca­tional net­work.

In re­cent decades, as the po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence of the BJP grew in the re­gion, Jhark­hand has also seen a strong ex­pan­sion of ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions run by groups associated with the RSS, which is in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing the pres­ence of the Chris­tian mis­sion­ar­ies, al­leg­ing they in­dulge in re­li­gious con­ver­sion un­der the pre­text of of­fer­ing ed­u­ca­tion .

Ear­lier in 2017, Jhark­hand gov­ern­ment rechris­tened state’s old­est “Ranchi Col­lege” to “Dr Shyama Prasad Mukher­jee Univer­sity”. Mukher­jee was the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangha, the fore­run­ner to BJP.

The re­nam­ing sparked protests from tribal stu­dents, who ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of “saf­fro­nis­ing” ed­u­ca­tion by sup­press­ing stu­dents’ opin­ion and is­su­ing dik­tats to please the RSS.

Satur­day’s meet­ing of the Sangh af­fil­i­ates also hailed the 1000-day old Raghubar Das gov­ern­ment for its de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce the con­tro­ver­sial anti-con­ver­sion law, and re­solved to im­ple­ment the same ef­fec­tively.

The Jhark­hand Re­li­gious Free­dom Act, 2017 put se­vere re­stric­tion on re­li­gious con­ver­sion. As per its pro­vi­sions, any­one found vi­o­lat­ing the leg­is­la­tion would be im­pris­oned for three years and fined ₹50,000 or both, and four-year im­pris­on­ment and ₹1 lakh fine, or both, if the per­son con­verted is a mi­nor, woman or SC or ST.

It also man­dates a per­son con­vert­ing will­ingly to in­form the deputy com­mis­sioner about de­tails such as time, place and the per­son who ad­min­is­ters the con­ver­sion pro­ceed­ings.

Pro-Chris­tian tribal groups and Op­po­si­tion have con­demned the law de­scrib­ing it an­other step by the RSS-BJP com­bine to vic­timise mi­nori­ties in the state.

A pol­icy passed by the As­sam assem­bly on Fri­day to check state’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion has re­ceived flak from state’s mi­nor­ity out­fits for be­ing ‘against the marginalised’.

The res­o­lu­tion, passed by the house within hours of state health and fam­ily wel­fare min­is­ter Hi­manta Biswa Sarma mov­ing it, seeks to bar those hav­ing more than two chil­dren from con­test­ing polls, get­ting gov­ern­ment jobs or ben­e­fits.

Badruddin Ajmal, chief of the All In­dia United Demo­cratic Front, said the pop­u­la­tion pol­icy bore marks of the RSS’ in­flu­ence and tar­geted the Mus­lims and other marginalised groups.

“Mus­lims are not even 1% of the gov­ern­ment work­force, and the pol­icy in­tends to shut them out of the lim­ited job op­por­tu­ni­ties in the fu­ture. There is a per­cep­tion that Mus­lims have more chil­dren, but the world knows il­lit­er­acy and poverty add to the num­bers,” Ajmal told HT .

“The least the BJP gov­ern­ment could have done is ed­u­cate peo­ple about the ben­e­fits of small fam­i­lies be­fore try­ing to im­pose it on the peo­ple,” he added.

In a state­ment, Ox­fam In­dia’s Nisha Agrawal had ear­lier said the pop­u­la­tion pol­icy in­fringed upon the re­pro­duc­tive rights of women who could be forced into un­safe abor­tions.

The Congress found a ‘link’ be­tween the pol­icy and the BJP’s move to bring Hindu mi­grants from Bangladesh to counter the per­ceived de­mo­graphic in­va­sion by Mus­lims who con­sti­tute 34% of As­sam’s to­tal pop­u­la­tion.

“If the BJP is sin­cere about con­trol­ling pop­u­la­tion, why does it want to bring in non-Mus­lims from neigh­bour­ing coun­tries?” for­mer CM Tarun Go­goi asked.

Mus­lims are not even 1% of the gov­ern­ment work­force, and the pol­icy in­tends to shut them out of lim­ited job op­por­tu­ni­ties in the fu­ture.


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