Mere conversion of religion does not alter the social and economic status of Scheduled Caste (SC) converts to Christianity, Andhra Pradesh Minister Merugu Nagarjuna said, urging the Centre to amend the Constitution to accord them protection and reservation under SC category.
Referring to the recent resolution adopted in the Legislative Assembly in this regard, the state Minister for Social Welfare observed that the converts continue to retain their disabilities, including untouchability, discrimination and humiliation.
“The socio-economic conditions of Scheduled Castes of Hinduism and SCs who converted to Christianity are one and the same as they live in the same horizon in the outskirts of the villages, follow the same traditions and customs… none of these things change by a person converting into another religion,” said Nagarjuna in a letter to the union government on Tuesday, a copy of which was shared with the media.
He apprised the Centre of the several representations received by the state government about how SC converts continue to face social, economic and political discrimination while stating that they deserve better treatment on par with those who embraced Sikhism and Buddhism.
The minister also reminded that the southern state had extended certain non-statutory concessions available to Hinduism SCs also to SCs who converted to Christianity in 1977, including economic support schemes sanctioned by the AP Scheduled Castes Cooperative Finance Corporation Ltd.
He contended that there is a strong legitimate basis for including them in the list of Scheduled Castes to enable them to enjoy the benefits available to other scheduled castes enumerated in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) order.
“Government of India is requested to consider amending the Constitution of India to extend SC status to the members of Scheduled Castes community in India who have converted to Christianity, so that they can enjoy the same rights, protection and benefits as all the other Scheduled Castes,” he added.