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. Dalits forceful conversion into Christianity
Dalits’ forceful conversion into Christianity
In January 2020, the Hindu legal-activist groups – Legal Rights Protection Forum and SC-ST Rights Forum had written a letter to NCSC over rampant forced conversion activities by the Christian missionaries and Churches. In the complaint, the activist groups had alleged that the Churches have been targeting people belonging to the Scheduled Caste communities in the state and had contended that there has been a misuse of reservations for the Scheduled Caste community. The groups had sought a Fact-Finding Committee for remedial action. “The large scale religious conversions are leading to social strife, law and order issue in the villages, and families are getting torn apart,” the complaint said.
Scheduled Castes and Christians have become synonymous
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 Pradesh government’s scheme “Chandranna Christian Kanuna,” 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.
A sharp decline in Christianity
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.
Christian obtaining Hindu certificate to take advantage of the reservation benefits
According to the complainant, even though they practise Christianity, they are obtaining Hindu certificate 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.
Gurujala village had passed a resolution to take steps to protect the Dalits from forceful religious conversion
In response to the complaint, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has taken cognisance of the letter and has assured to work into the matter and take necessary action against the rampant conversion activities by the churches in Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, in a significant step to prevent the Scheduled Castes (SC) community from getting lured by Christian missionaries to convert into 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.