» 12/13/2013, 00.00
India, Prime Minister Singh apologizes to Delhi clergy for police violence
A delegation led by Msgr. Anil Couto, Archbishop of Delhi, met the prime minister to seek rights for Dalit Christians and Muslims. Singh vows to bring the issue before Parliament and terms police attack on priests, nuns and Christian demonstrators "brutal".
(AsiaNews / Agencies) - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has offered an
apology to the Archbishop of New Delhi and Christian religious leaders , for
the " brutal " aggression
by the police during a peaceful march in favor of the rights of Dalit Christians and
the Prime Minister received a delegation of local clergy, led by Msgr . Anil
Couto , now in Parliament to reiterate the demand to put an end to the
discrimination of Christian and Muslim "outcasts ". During
the meeting, hundreds of protesters from across India marched into the building
shouting "We want justice."
The attack took
place on December 11 last during a peaceful march, led by religious leaders
Catholics and Protestants, attended by hundreds of people. To
disperse the crowd headed towards Parliament, the police used water cannons and
launched a charge armed with batons, not even sparing priests, nuns and
with the refusal of the protesters to move, the police arrested more than 400
people , including all the bishops. The
police then kept them in custody for five hours, until the prime minister's
office confirmed a meeting with a delegation.
Speaking to AsiaNews Card. Oswald
Gracias, President of the Indian Bishops' Conference and archbishop of Mumbai,
called the attack "shameful
, disgraceful and deplorable ."
reporters after the meeting, Msgr. Couto
said: "The prime minister has listened with sincere concern and attention
to our requests. Has promised to bring the issue before Parliament and do
everything in his power to resolve the situation."
The struggle to ensure equal rights to Dalit Christians and Muslims began
in 1950, when Parliament approved Article .341 of the Constitution on the Scheduled Castes (SC ) : according to
this paragraph , the law recognizes the rights and economic, educational and social benefits
only for Dalit Hindus. Later,
in 1956 and 1990, the status was extended to Buddhists and Sikhs. Not
enjoying these constitutional rights, the " Dalit " Christians and
Muslims are not even entitled to political representation.
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