MPs from across the Political Parties supported the demand of Dalit Christians & Dalit Muslims

Joint Action CommiNew Delhi, December 3, 2011: The Joint Action Committee for securing equal rights to Muslims and Christians of Scheduled caste origin conducted a dialogue between members of Parliament and the leaders of Christian and Muslim Communities on 30th November 2011 at the CNI Bhavan at 6.30pm. The Joint Action Committee consisted of representatives of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the National Council of Dalit Christians and Muslim organizations for Social Justice.

The leaders of the Muslim and Christian Communities expressed their deep anguish over the delay in justice to Christian and Muslim Dalit brothers and sisters who have been in struggle for the past 60 years. They have been urging the Government of India to delete the discriminatory paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 that precludes Dalits of the Christian and Muslim communities from availing the benefits of affirmative action. To push for this demand, they have organized various protest marches, hunger strikes, rallies and have written memorandums and met Ministers and Government Executives. However, the Government has not fulfilled its promise. Justice delayed is indeed justice denied.

The meeting of the Joint Action Committee also brought to the notice of the Parliamentarians the government’s non-cooperation on the Civil Writ Petition 180/2004 in the Supreme Court and told them that government is yet to give its reply to this writ to the Supreme Court.

The members of Parliament expressed their support and solidarity with the Joint Action Committees requests. They reaffirmed that this is a just demand of the minority communities. It is discrimination based on religion and is not acceptable. They promised to support this cause inside the Parliament and outside the Parliament.  They also suggested that the minorities should stay together in their demands for the rights of Dalits of their communities.

The following members of the Parliament attended the meeting with the Christian and Muslim leaders.: Shri. P.R. Natarajan, Communist Party of India (Marxist); Shri. Harsh Kumar, Prof. P.J. Kurien, Shri. Husain Dalwai, Shri. J. D. Seelam, Shri. C.L.Ruala, Shri. Dr. Charles Dias and Shri. Francisco Sardinha of the Indian National Congress; Shri. Syed Azeez Pasha, Shri.D.Raja, Shri.P.Lingam from the Communist Party of India; Shri. Ali Anwar Ansari from Janta Dal United; Shri. Asaduddin Owaisi from the All India Majlis-e-lttehadul Muslimeen; Shri. Thol.Thirumaavalavan from Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi;  Shri. Abdul Rahman from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam; and Shri. Mohammed Shafi from the Jammu Kashmir National Congress.

The following Christian and Muslim leaders participated in the dialogue along with members of their communities: Ms. Sushma Ramswami, Vice President NCCI, Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary NCCI; Mr. Alwan Masih, General Secretary, Church of North India Synod; Ms.Leila Passah, General Secretary, YWCA; Mr. John Varughese, General Secretary, YMCA; Dr. Daniel Ezhilarasu, General Secretary AIACHE;  Mr. Eric Christopher, Habitat for Humanity;  Fr. Cosmon Arikara, Secretary of SC/ ST Commission of CBCI, Fr. Charles, CBCI, Fr. Bosco, NCDC, Mr. Franklin Caesar Thomas, NCDC, Fr. Selvaraj, ISI; Mr. Abdul Rashid, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushwarat, Mr. Aaris Mohammed, Centre for Social Justice, Mohammad Ahmad, Secretary Jamaat-E-Islami Hind, Shri. P.C.Hamza, General Secretary Welfare Party of India.

There was the view expressed that only a strong united political action will bring a solution to the issue.

(1) It was proposed that the Christian and Muslim leaders draft a fresh memorandum in the light of the discussions that were held, and to make a single focused demand that Para 3 of the 1950 Presidential Order be deleted, and that Scheduled Caste Status be delinked from religion. A copy of this memorandum should be sent to the concerned Parliamentarians.

(2)  At the same time the Parliamentarians who have attended the meeting on 30th November 2011 suggested that they would get together along with other like-minded Parliamentarians and decide on the appropriate political strategy to be undertaken in the Parliament.

(3)  The Christian and Muslim organizations would need to work together to protect their rights of the Communities.

(4) Mobilize Christians and Muslims to vote in the 2014 General Elections for the party that would support the rights of Dalit Muslims and Christians.

– samuel jayakumar

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