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Subhash Chandra Baheria, a BJP MP from Bhilwara, Rajasthan, spoke with Apurva Vishwanath about the issue he raised regarding non-Hindu Scheduled Tribes (STs) receiving reservation on Tuesday.

Baheria believes that when a member of a ST converts to another religion, they should not be eligible for reservation. He feels it is unfair that many Scheduled Tribes are converting to Christianity and still receiving reservation benefits, as reservation is based on caste.

While reservation for STs is not strictly based on caste, Baheria points out that Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar intended reservation for Scheduled Tribes to provide equality for those with a Hindu ancestry who protect forests and wildlife. He believes that once someone converts to Islam or Christianity, they should no longer be considered a tribal member.

Baheria argues that many tribal members are pressured into converting and continue to receive reservation benefits, which he sees as a significant problem in tribal areas. He suggests that if reservation benefits were removed, conversions would also decrease. However, he believes that those who return to Hinduism should still be eligible for reservation.

Baheria also notes that the Constitution recognizes Dalit Buddhists and Dalit Sikhs, but only for Scheduled Castes. He questions why religions without a caste system should receive reservation benefits.

In terms of a way forward, Baheria believes that the government should amend the Constitution to ensure that those who convert to other religions do not receive reservation benefits, and that these benefits should be reserved for genuine STs.

Apurva Vishwanath is a Senior Assistant Editor with The Indian Express.

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