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Tribal body to fight Church 'domination'

Tribal body to fight Church 'domination'

Author: Statesman News Service
Publication: The Statesman
Date: November 15, 2001

Agartala, Nov. 14. - Leaders of the Tripura Jamatiya Hill community have announced a programme of setting up schools and cultural units in the state's hill villages to counter the influence of the missionary-run schools.

'Jamatiya Hada', the apex social unit of the community, expressed concern over the manner in which tribal children were being weaned away from their tradition under the influence of the educational system run by Church loyalists.

The Hada also pointed out that while hundreds of government schools had been shut for years under threats from insurgents groups, "thus far, not a single missionary has been affected by insurgency". Rebel groups show readiness to allow tribal students and teachers, along with other non-teaching staff, to attend English medium missionary schools even in the most inaccessible hill areas.

The Jamatiya Hada believes that forcible conversion of hill people by gun-toting insurgents was "part of the design".

The Jamatiya said members of the Tripura Assembly, cutting across party lines, had expressed their deep concern over the manner in which militants groups were indulging in proselytism. The Jamatiya leaders had met at Birchandramanu, in Belonia subdivision, recently to review the situation in hill Tripura.

Leaders said that 'Baba Garia Mission' has been set up, among other things, to impart quality education to the tribal children and uphold the hill people's traditional values. 'Garia' is the widely worshiped tribal deity here.

It has been decided to set up the mission's units in 326 hill villages dominated by the Jamatiya tribesmen in the first phase. The mission will also take up programmes to check dropouts among tribal children.

The Baba Garia Mission seeks to build up a democratic movement among the hill people for the cause of tribal interest, said the Jamatiya leaders.

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