AGARTALA: A controversial announcement by Janajati Suraksha Manch (JSM), a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-backed organisation, has stirred debate as it declares plans to hold a rally in Agartala on December 25, Christmas Day.
The rally aims to demand the withdrawal of benefits currently enjoyed by Scheduled Tribe (ST) individuals who have converted to Christianity.
The convener of JSM’s Tripura unit, Santi Bikash Chakma, asserted the need for a constitutional amendment to delist those who have embraced Christianity from the ST community.
The JSM, supported by the Banabasi Kalyan Ashram, the tribal wing of RSS and the ideological parent body of Tripura’s ruling BJP, plans to stage the rally at the Swami Vivekananda Ground.
Addressing the press in a statement, Chakma clarified that the organisation is not against any religion but highlighted concerns about the rapid growth of Christianity in Tripura due to conversions.
Citing historical statistics, he stated that the number of Christians in Tripura has surged from 138 in the 1911 Census to 46,472 in 1991 and 1,59,582 in 2011.
Chakma argued that individuals who have converted to Christianity from the tribal community continue to receive benefits designated for ST people.
He contended that the original listing of Indigenous tribes as ST was rooted in their unique traditions, culture, and customs.
“The ST status must be withdrawn from converted people as they no longer practice old culture, tradition, and custom,” Chakma claimed, highlighting the organisation’s goal to “protect and preserve the indigenous culture” by delisting of converted people from the ST category.
The announcement has sparked discussions about the intersection of religious freedom, constitutional rights, and the preservation of cultural identity, with various groups expressing differing opinions on the matter.