Jharkhand CM slammed for raising conversion issue

The opposition and tribal leaders in Jharkhand on Friday accused Chief Minister Raghubar Das of raising the issue of conversion to weaken the ongoing agitation against proposed amendments to two land acts.

Das, heading a Bharatiya Janata Party-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.

On Thursday again, Das, participating in an official programme in Dumka, raised the issue drawing flak from several parties and organisations.

"The Chief Minister is threatening the minority community in the state. Instead of finding a solution, he is trying to divert attention by raising the conversion issue," Adivasi Sangharsh Morcha (ASM) convenor Karma Oraon told IANS.

Das is deliberately trying to divide the society. "But his move will not work and the protests will continue," Oraon said.

"Raghubar Das is the CM and such statements do not suit his position. His conversion statement is sending a wrong message among the people," Adivasi Buddhijivi Manch President Prem Chandra Murmu told IANS.

Das was making such a statement to create a communal divide and to dilute the agitation against the amendments, Murmu said.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief and Lok Sabha member Sibu Soren also attacked Das for threatening the minority community and trying to make land acquisition easy in the state.

"If Raghubar Das cannot stand hearing names of Adivasi and Moolvasi then he should go back to his parent state Chhattisgarh," Soren said, adding that the Das government had failed at every step.

Echoing the view, former central Minister and Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay told IANS: "Jharkhand's image has been dented nationally after two police firings in the state during the ongoing land acquisition protest."

Das is trying to give land to the Adani Group at throwaway prices in the Santhal Parganas by violating the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, Sahay said.

"Where in Jharkhand is conversion taking place," Sahay wondered adding that the minorities in the state were feeling threatened following the amendment move.

"BJP is playing the communal card as in the past and I don't think such a card will weaken the protest," Sahay said.

In June, the Jharkhand government sought to promulgate the two ordinances which Governor Draupadi Murmu sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for approval.

The desired amendments could facilitate acquisition of agricultural lands for non-agricultural purposes like building roads and setting up power projects.

The opposition parties, besides BJP alliance-partner AJSU (All Jharkhand Students Union) and tribal organisations have been protesting the move since.