Church leaders and activists have welcomed the appointment of a tribal Catholic as India’s new minister of state for minority affairs.
John Barla, an MP who represents Alipurduar in West Bengal state for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest cabinet reshuffle on July 7.
“We are quite delighted after John was given the chance to look after minority affairs and will be directly responsible for day-to-day activities of minorities’ groups. We hope he does justice to his responsibilities,” Father Nicholas Barla, secretary of the Indian bishops’ commission for tribal affairs, told.
“It feels good when someone from the same community is chosen as a federal minister, and we pray and wish him good luck. “Since John himself belong to an Oran tribe, he is the right person who can understand the sufferings, difficulties and socioeconomic condition of the tribal people. It will be easy for him to work for the downtrodden people.
“We have a big list of demands concerning tribal rights and we hope the new minister will be able to address all these issues.”