Hindu Dal­its clash with Chris­tian Dal­its, say the lat­ter are usurp­ing jobs for SCS

India Today - - NATION - By Uday Mahurkar

There is a def­i­nite agenda to di­vide Dal­its by mak­ing false charges and pre­vent­ing their em­pow­er­ment. PIYUSH S. J., SE­NIOR PRIEST, RO­MAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Abat­tle rages be­tween RSS and Chris­tian mis­sion­ar­ies in Khamb­hat town in cen­tral Gu­jarat over the con­ver­sion of Dal­its to Chris­tian­ity and Chris­tian Dal­its al­legedly seek­ing jobs as Hindu Sched­uled Castes. The tug of war is spilling over to nearby vil­lages and threat­ens to es­ca­late into a full-blown war.

In March, Forum for Peace and Jus­tice, an NGO sup­ported by RSS, filed two com­plaints be­fore Anand Dis­trict Col­lec­tor Avan­tika Singh. One com­plaint al­leged that the Ro­man Catholic Church had con­verted 32 Dalit mi­nors study­ing in the lo­cal St Xavier’s School to Chris­tian­ity in the past two years but failed to in­form the col­lec­tor about it in ad­vance, as is re­quired un­der the Gu­jarat Free­dom of Re­li­gion Act, 2008. The other com­plaint al­leged that 103 lo­cal Dalit Chris­tians got gov­ern­ment jobs un­der the SC quota pos­ing as Hindu Dal­its. Nine of these are par­ents of chil­dren named in the other com­plaint.

Dhar­men­dra Rathod, co­or­di­na­tor of the forum and an RSS worker, al­leges: “The com­plaints are backed by ev­i­dence and ex­pose the role of the mis­sion­ar­ies.” Fa­ther Piyush S.J., 53, se­nior priest at the Ro­man Catholic church in Khamb­hat and prin­ci­pal of St Xavier’s, dis­agrees. “There is a def­i­nite agenda to di­vide the Dal­its by mak­ing false charges and pre­vent­ing their em­pow­er­ment. Not a sin­gle per­son has been con­verted af­ter the law came into be­ing,” he claims.

Anoop Vegda, 29, a Dalit teacher is ac­cused of get­ting his job on a false certificate. Son Mi­lan, 12, is one of the 32 chil­dren men­tioned in the other com­plaint. Vegda ve­he­mently de­nies he is a Dalit Chris­tian and ac­cuses the forum of ha­rass­ment. “Rathod is anti-Dalit,” he fumes. Vegda says his son did par­tic­i­pate in a Chris­tian cel­e­bra­tion at St Xavier’s on Jan­uary 2, 2011, and had un­know­ingly at­tended in a Com­mu­nion. Fa­ther Piyush claims that the chil­dren were Chris­tians. How­ever, par­ents of 31 of the 32 chil­dren who took part in the Com­mu­nion told the po­lice that they are Hin­dus. “Once a Dalit con­verts to an­other re­li­gion, he loses his SC sta­tus. Dalit Chris­tians are vi­o­lat­ing the law. Don’t we have the right to protest?” asks Ma­ganbhai Ro­hit, 41, a forum worker.

The ten­sion is spilling over to nearby vil­lages. In Pan­dad, near Khamb­hat, Hindu Dal­its and al­leged Chris­tian Dal­its had a con­fronta­tion over al­lot­ment of gov­ern­ment land to SCS. One group of Dal­its ac­cused the other of pos­ing as Hindu SCS. Two Dalit fam­i­lies also clashed in Vatadra vil­lage on April 7, in which one per­son was in­jured.

Dalit Chris­tians are plan­ning protest demon­stra­tions against “at­tacks” on them. Po­lice are prob­ing the two com­plaints.



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