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  • » 07/21/2010, 00.00


    Five thousand Dalit Christians and Muslims against discrimination

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Led by bishops and religious leaders the Dalit Christians and Muslims are asking the government to cancel the law that since 1950 recognizes and guarantees rights only to Dalit Hindus and Buddhists. Bishop Neethinathan, of Chingleput (Tamil Nadu): "It 's very painful to see our Dalit people suffer double discrimination in terms of society and religion."

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) - More than 5 thousand Dalit Christians and Muslims from all over India, used the lush backdrop of the Jantar Mantar gardens in New Delhi to launch their protest demanding equal rights with Dalit Hindus and Buddhists.

    The sit-in was sponsored by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), the National Council of the Dalit Christians (NCDC) and National Council of Churches in India (NCCI). The purpose is to ask for the deletion of paragraph 3 of the Constitution Scheduled Castes Order, which since 1950 gives status and rights exclusively to Dalit Hindus and Buddhists. According to the law Dalits who convert to Christianity or Islam lose all previously enjoyed rights, including political representation. On 18 December 2009 the National Commission on Religious and Linguistic Minorities (Ncrlm) presented the Lok Sabha (parliament) with a proposal to amend the law. To date the authorities have not yet responded.

    Fr. Cosmon Arokiaraj, secretary of the Indian bishops' Commission for Dalit Christians, accused the main governing party, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) of blocking the revision of the law. "We condemn the obstructions of the ruling party - he says - The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has cleared the ways for the implementation of equal rights for our two communities." The priest said the UPA pursues religious discrimination against Christians and Muslims, against the values of secularism and democracy bandied about during the election campaign last year.

    Bishop A. Neethinathan, of Chingleput (Tamil Nadu) and member of the Episcopal Commission for the program on castes and tribals, says: "As a pastor of the Catholic Church in India, it is very painful to see our Dalit people suffer double discrimination, on social and religious grounds". "This is why  – he continues - I'm here in New Delhi to participate in the struggle for Dalit Christians and make an appeal to the government to implement the changes recommended by the Ncrlm and give a democratic and secular image of India, where even the weakest to enjoy the privileges and rights".


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    See also

    18/07/2011 INDIA
    Indian bishops, on hunger strike for the rights of Christian and Muslim Dalits
    Together with other organizations for the rights of Dalits they hope to convince the government to abolish the law that discriminates on the basis of caste and religion. The strike, scheduled July 25 to 27, 28, will culminate with a march to Parliament. Vincent Manoharan, Dalit rights activist, warns: "The government is like the BJP, nothing will change."

    06/08/2010 INDIA
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    On August 10, 1950 laws were approved that discriminate against Christians and Muslims Dalits. Archbishop Joji, himself a Dalit Bishop, explains the strong social desire to eliminate discrimination and remembers the example of Mother Teresa.

    01/06/2010 INDIA
    The social revolution of India’s outcastes
    The redemption of the outcastes began in the early nineteenth century with the presence of Christian missionaries: PIME for example is in India (Andhra Pradesh) and in Bengal since 1855. Today, Andhra Pradesh has 80 million inhabitants and the Church has 12 dioceses (six of which were founded by PIME) with about a half million Catholics.

    26/03/2011 INDIA
    The Church demands Indian government end discrimination against Dalit Christians and Muslims
    The 1950 law which upholds the Hindu "untouchables" does not apply if they change religion and become Christians or Muslims, in spite of the legal opinions expressed by various committees. An interview with the Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Dalits and tribals.

    21/07/2005 INDIA
    Campaign in favour of Christian Dalits meets first success
    "Christian Dalits must enjoy the same opportunities as Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Dalits do".

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