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‘Tribal girls have fallen prey to love jihad’ — Hindu Right press on stripping converts’ ST status

ThePrint’s round-up of how pro-Hindutva media covered and commented on news and topical issues over the past few weeks.

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New Delhi: An editorial in RSS mouthpiece Organiser last week questioned whether tribals who have converted to Christianity or Islam can enjoy the status of both a minority and Scheduled Tribe (ST), and whether it is not a constitutional anomaly.

Claiming that the “delisting debate is back”, the article said that non-convert tribals across the country are organising rallies and submitting memorandums to highlight how “the root cause of their continued marginalisation” is that adivasis who have converted to Christianity or Islam are still claiming the benefits that come with ST reservation.

It further argued in another piece that there was a “demand” from non-converted tribals that the government should conduct surveys to ascertain that those benefiting from ST reservations were “indeed tribals who follow their age-old traditions” and not converts.

In this article, Organiser claimed that the tribal community is facing a serious threat from Christian missionaries and radical Islamist elements alike.

“In the last decade, experts say the methods employed by Christian missionaries to employ tribals has taken a paradigm shift. Now they’re using more money power as a conversion tool,” the article noted.

It also invoked the concept of “love jihad”, claiming there have been a number of incidents in which tribal girls have fallen prey in Jharkhand and West Bengal.

“It’s reported that after marrying these girls (tribals), these men (some of whom are affiliated with Harkat-Ul-Ansar of Bangladesh), are forcibly encroaching the traditional lands of the tribals. Such elements have found support from the respective state governments, all due to the vote-bank policy,” the article said.

Also read: ‘SC now a tool for anti-nationals,’ says Hindu Right press on BBC documentary row

VHP ‘saved’ Waqf properties

The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) claimed it saved 123 prime government properties in Delhi from the Waqf board, in a note published last week on its website.

“It’s our pleasure to say that after a long legal battle of some 40 years, we have saved 123 such properties [valued at] around [Rs] 20,000 crores from going to the illegal occupation of Delhi Waqf Board (DWB),” Alok Kumar, the Central working president of VHP was quoted as saying.

VHP claimed that these properties were “gifted” to the Waqf Board on lease of Rs 1 per annum by the Congress government in 1984.

“In and around the year 1910, the Government of India acquired vast properties in Delhi for the new Capital of India. The acquisition was completed and the properties vested in the Government. In the late 70s the Delhi Waqf Board (DWB) notified 123 of the acquired properties, several of them strategically located, as Waqf properties. The Government contested the claim in all 123 cases,”  it said.

The VHP claimed that it challenged this notification in the Delhi High Court and the government appointed a two-member committee, which was accepted.

Gurumurthy on Adani

RSS ideologue and journalist S Gurumurthy weighed in on the Adani crisis in an interview to LiveMint, saying that the government cannot be held responsible, given the unprecedented paradigm shift in the financial and economic order, as well as in the business psyche.

“[C]harges [in report by short seller Hindenberg Research] relating to governance, audit, and valuation ratios are very much within the available market information, and all institutional investors must have had knowledge of it. When institutional investors who are well-informed invest, the retail investors follow. This is how the top-down market works. All those who had made it big in a short time, like Adani, will have much to answer for. He has to be probed,” Gurumurthy said.

He added, however: “But the way it happened to him also needs to be probed as, in the future, any group can be targeted by a bear cartel at a crucial time like an IPO, etc.”

He argued that the Supreme Court is possibly not doing the right thing by bringing in a super committee above the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and that it should trust the body.

“To my knowledge, the only case where it suspects political patronage is in Adani’s port capacity building, in which only two ports were given on bidding by governments directly—one by the Gujarat Congress government in 1994 and another in 2015 by the Congress government in Kerala. The other ports were bought by the Adani group from private operators. It means that the present political dispensation has little to do with Adani port capacity building,” Gurumurthy said.

Pew report based on ‘hearsay’

 American sociologist Salvatore Babones, who made headlines for calling Indian intellectuals “anti-India” last year, wrote an article in Firstpost last week saying that American think-tank Pew Research’s religious freedom ranking misrepresents India, and that an “unholy alliance” of international Islamists and Christian missionaries have weaponised the American international religious freedom reporting system against India

“For the fifth year in a row, India topped Pew’s global Social Hostilities Index. This can’t be dismissed as just another example of international Modi-bashing. Pew has rated India among the world’s worst offenders on social hostility to religion for 14 years running. According to Pew, Indian society has been hostile to religion for as long as it has been studying the topic,” he wrote.

The Pew report in question, published in November 2022, focused on how Covid restrictions affected religious groups globally in 2020. It gave India a score of 9.4 out of 10 in its Social Hostilities Index, worse even than Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The report elaborated on various incidents of “pandemic-related social hostilities against religious groups”, including state action against Tablighi Jamaat, but made no mention of India’s “social hostility to religion” in general, as suggested by Babones.

 The sociologist further argued that Pew’s Social Hostilities Index isn’t based on data, but hearsay. “Or more accurately: it’s based primarily on complaints made by activists to the US State Department, and summarised in the State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom reports. These reports can hardly be considered a source of unbiased raw data,” he wrote.

Babones had made ripples last November when he said that India’s intellectual class is “anti-India”, during a discussion with senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai on whether India’s democracy is in decline.

ABVP condemns MK Stalin’s statement 

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the RSS-affiliated student politics organsation, said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin’s statement blaming them for the desecration of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s statue in JNU earlier this month, is unfortunate and divisive.

Stalin had alleged earlier this month that ABVP students had vandalised portraits of icons like Periyar, BR Ambedkar, and Karl Marx in JNU.

ABVP, in an article published on their website, said Stalin’s comments are going to challenge the integrity of the country.

“It is not in the culture of ABVP to insult the portrait of any great man. We completely deny the allegation made by Stalin with the aim of helping the malicious leftist mentality. Stalin wants to create controversy in Tamil and Telugu (sic) by attacking tribal students in collaboration with anti-India leftists,” the article said.

It went on to claim that “some communist students and outsiders” had thrown out the pictures of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Maharana Pratap. The garland of flowers offered on him was also mutilated and thrown in the corner outside the room, it said.

(Edited by Asavari Singh)

Also read: ‘Religious frenzy causes inhuman behaviour’: Hindu Right press links Shraddha murder to ‘love jihad’



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