Arunachal Christians oppose call to surrender ST status

ITANAGAR: The Arunachal Christian Forum (ACF), in a letter submitted to the Chief Minister Pema Khandu, has appealed to resolve the Tawang church issue within 30 days and to direct the district administration concerned to prevent activities demanding the surrender of ST status by Christians.

Addressing mediapersons at the press club here on Wednesday, ACF president Toko Teki said that it has been a year and the three-member committee constituted is yet to solve the matter.

He also informed that the members of ACF had met with the Chief Minister and appraised him of the matter, to which the latter issued directives to the committee members headed by chairman Mama Natung.

“Earlier today, the chairman Mama Natung had called me and said the final outcome of the Tawang church issue will be disclosed after the completion of the final celebration of Nyokum Yullo festival,” he said.

Speaking on the demands of a few groups on delisting the ST status of Christians, Teki said that even the Chief Minister has said that there is no such provision to cancel the ST status of any Christian.

Teki, while appealing to the Christian brethrens of the State not to be too concerned over the matter, has also said that such demands are only made to create disharmony among the indigenous people.

“Further if those groups and individuals continue to hold up the demands to de-list us from ST status, then the forum will take legal action against those individuals or may be groups,” he said, adding, “there is no such Indian law to de-list us.”

The ACF also claimed that the majority of the district Deputy Commissioners have written letters to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and State’s Department of Tribal Affairs to de-list the ST status of the Christian community.

The forum questioned the respective DCs’ action, asking the grounds on which such activities are being carried out and whether they are doing so as per the directive of the State Government.

Meanwhile, ACF general secretary Tarh Miri said that the State is in grave danger where NGOs from States like Madhya Pradesh, under the banner of ‘Janjati Suraksha Manch’, is trying to create disharmony among the people of State in the name of religion.

He said that the State is witnessing communal warfare since the State Government is under the BJP. Such activity will in long run create division, disharmony and differences among the State’s own people, he added.

ACF also took a clear stand that the Christian community will remain under ST status and will never in future demand for dual status. It further said that none of the Christians in the State is availing Government benefits claiming be members of a ‘Minority’ community.

“There are many schemes for the minority groups but we don’t endorse anyone to avail the benefit. We get the same benefit as many students get under Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme, Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme etc,” he said.

Source: Sentinel Assam

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