Thursday, July 28, 2011
NUCF Supports the demand of Dalit Christians for Scheduled Caste Status
New Delhi, July 27, 2011
The National United Christian Forum (NUCF) comprising of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), strongly supports the just demand of the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims who are on hunger strike from 25th-28th July, 2011 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. This protest is meant to reiterate the demand for obtaining Scheduled Caste Status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims.
Christians of Scheduled Caste Origin (CSCO), also called Dalit Christians, and Dalit Muslims have been asking for equal Constitutional rights on a par with their fellow Dalit brothers and sisters. Their Constitutional right to be treated equally has been denied historically in the Presidential (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950, Paragraph 3. This exclusion of people of Scheduled Caste (SC) Origin who adhere to religions other than Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism from their fundamental rights has caused great concern and has been debated from the very beginning of its promulgation.
The Justice Ranganath Misra Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities under the UPA government itself has endorsed that the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims should be included in the Scheduled Caste Status and be given the same benefits as their counterparts in other religions. Similarly, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and National Commission for Minorities have also sent their recommendations in favour of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims.
The struggle for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims has also received support from several political parties such as BSP, AIADMK, DMK, Telgue Dessam, RJD, LJP, JD(U) CPI, CPI(M). Some members from the Congress Party have also extended their support to the cause of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. However, it is sad and unfortunate that the Central Government has not taken any effective measures yet to address the genuine demand of these sections of Indian society.
The NUCF strongly believes that it is only just and fair that the Christians and Muslims of Scheduled caste origin should get the legal protection and other educational and employment benefits given to their counterparts in other religions. The NUCF is convinced that change of one’s religious faith, does not alter one’s social status in India, and the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in India have been victims of social and economic exploitation for centuries. Their demand is genuine and it needs to be addressed at the earliest so that they can also be on par with Dalit Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs.
Rev. Dr. Babu Joseph, SVD
NUCF Media Coordinator &