Tribal Christian IAS officer served show cause notice for Facebook post over Jharkhand CM’s conversion remarks

Does a tribal have no right to choose a religion of his/her choice with respect? Why all of a sudden have people started thinking about religion of tribals? — Vandana Dadel

Ranchi: A senior IAS officer has sought 15-days leave after a show cause notice was served on her for questioning Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das’ statement on religious conversion of tribals at an official programme.

Jharkhand’s personnel department has served the show cause to notice to Panchayati Raj Secretary Vandana Dadel, a 1996 IAS officer, on Monday.

In her Facebook post in Hindi, Dadel wrote: “A question arises in the mind when questions are raised during an official programme about the religion of tribals, and on religious conversion. Does a tribal have no right to choose a religion of his/her choice with respect. Why all of a sudden have people started thinking about the religion of tribals? The fact is that the society is suffering from many other serious issues like malnutrition, illiteracy, unemployment.”

The officer’s Facebook post of October 20 at 2315 hrs was made the same day the Bharatiya Janata Party Chief Minister, during an official programme in Dumka, raised the conversion issue and threatened punishmet to those involved in conversion.

The tribal Christian officer was present when the Chief Minister raised the issue.

Das, heading a BJP-led alliance in the state, had claimed that those “involved in conversions” of tribals were inciting the protest against the state’s bid to amend the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNTA) and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPTA). Das’s frequent statement had not gone down well among the Christian community and leaders protesting the land amendments.

Das raised the conversion issue days after a rally held to protest his government’s move to amend the two land acts meant to protect rights of the tribal and indigenous.

The BJP government in Jharkhand has brought an ordinance to amend the Chotangapur Tenancy (CNT) and Santhal Pargana Act (SPT). After the ordinance is cleared by the President of India, agricultural land could be acquired for non-agricultural purposes and also be acquired for roads, the power sector and other works.

The Chief Minister has at least four to five times raised the conversion issue. He also said anyone involved in religious conversion would be punished.

The political leaders and tribal leaders have condemned the statement.