12/13/2013, 00.00
INDIA

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".

New Delhi (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 Muslims. Yesterday, 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 bishops. Faced 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 ."

Speaking to 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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