New Delhi (AsiaNews) – “On August 10 we will observe a Black Day [day of mourning] since August 10, 1950 the President of India passed the infamous Art. 3 of the Constitution on Scheduled Castes (SC). It is a protest against the discrimination suffered by Dalit Christians and Muslims. " Mgr Marampudi Joji, President of the Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes and Backward Classes of Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), thus explains to AsiaNews the sole reason for the protest on Aug. 10 organised by CBCI, the National Council of Churches in India and the National Council of Dalit Christians.
The promoters are asking that black flags be displayed in a sign of mourning on Christian churches and other buildings, in meetings and at public events. The hope is that - as Bishop Joji underlines in a declaration - "this is will be make our Christian communities ware and to urge the central government to pay attention to our just demand."
The 1950 law affords members of the Sc various rights as provided in art. 341 (1) of the Indian Constitution. But the 3rd paragraph of the norm specifies that those "who profess a religion different from Hinduism” are not considered members of these groups. In 1956 and 1990 amendments were introduced to extend the category also to Buddhists and Sikhs. While Christians and Muslims are still excluded. Thanks to this law, the Hindu Dalits have facilitated access to economic, educational and social positions, with allocated jobs in state bureaucracy.
Dalit Christians and Muslims have long accused of the norm of being unlawful and of violating basic constitutional principles-such as equality (Article 14), the prohibition of discrimination for reasons of faith (Article 15) and freedom to choose religion (art. 25).
The National Commission for Linguistic and Religious Minorities (known as the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission) was instructed to "fully repeal" the law in order to " completely remove the status of SC from religion and make the system of SC completely neutral with respect to religion, as is that of Scheduled Tribes. "
Several institutions have also asked to accept other religions in this system as Christians and Muslims, as have governments in 12 Indian states. The Councils state legislators of Bihar (2000), Uttar Pradesh (2006) and Andhra Pradesh have been asked to immediately include Christian and Muslim Dalits in the SC.
Even the Supreme Court has repeatedly urged the federal government to address and resolve the problem but has received no answer.
Numerous protest marches and dharna (protest fasts) organized across the country have had no impact. Neither the repeated assurances of ministers and politicians to solve the problem been followed up.
Archbishop Joji recalls that "Mother Teresa was the icon of the Poor, she fought for the poor and against the discrimination of the Dalits on the basis of their faith is the worst discrimination against the poor. In the pernicious caste system, Dalits are deprived of everything. They constitute over 16% of India's population and two thirds of Indian Christians. Mother Teresa devoted herself tirelessly to the poorest of the poor, the marginalized. On the centenary of the birth of this great saint, we hope that justice is done to Dalits Christians and Muslims. Since I became a priest in Vijawada in 1974, I have been close to the work of Mother Teresa and I helped to open her shelters in the diocese. In 1992, when I became bishop of Khamman, Mother Teresa was happy and said: This is proof that all are equal in the Catholic Church [Mgr. Joji belongs to the Dalits caste and was the first Dalit bishop of the Indian Church, Dalit in Sanskrit means "trampled" and were once considered social waste]. Mother loved the Dalits and is dedicated to them. Mother Teresa is a source of love, hope and charity and we hope that in the year of her centenary the government will listen to the voices of the past society. "