Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Renuka Singh on Saturday said antisocial elements backed by foreign funds were taking advantage of the poverty and ignorance of tribals who are Hindus and trying to misguide them into converting by providing health facilities and education.
Ms. Singh added that tribals were Hindus but confusion was being created over this.
Tribals are Hindus but confusion has been created at many places. Some antisocial elements with foreign funds, taking advantage of the poverty and ignorance of these tribals, misguide (convert) them with education and health facilities, which is hurtful.
She said that there is no national law against religious conversion using allurements, but on getting complaints, we reach out to indigenous people and ask them to stay back (not convert) as the government takes full care of them.
In an apparent reference to the tribals who had converted to Christianity and continue to get benefits of reservation, Ms. Singh said that double benefits being reaped by some was causing anger among a large section of the community.
However, Dalits who convert to Christianity do not get benefits of caste-based reservations.
The situation does not demand reviewing caste-based reservation system or abolishing it. People need it, she clarified.
On cancellation of former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogis certificates declaring him a tribal, the Minister said Mr. Jogi was not a tribal, but also added that the issue would depend on the courts verdict.
In reply to a question on girls from the Bachda community (in western Madhya Pradesh) being pushed into flesh trade as part of a social practice, Ms. Singh said the issue would be looked into and remedial measures put in place.
Van Dhan Vikas Centres
Speaking on development works carried out by her Ministry, Ms. Singh said 60,000 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras would be opened, each at a cost of 46 lakh, to market forest produce gathered by tribals.
She added that 600 sites had been earmarked for these centres.