‘Want like-minded people to head institutes’
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.
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA DEPARTMENT OF ATOMIC ENERGY DIRECTORATE OF PURCHASE & STORES MADRAS REGIONAL PURCHASE UNIT (MRPU)