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NCCI Invitation to NCCDC – NCDC Delhi Rally

June 20, 2011 by  
Filed under India, Persecution

NCC_Dalit_christian_indianDalit adhikaaronko haan bolo! Dilli Chalo!

The National Council of Churches in India calls members of its constituents to attend the massive hunger strike organised by the National Coordination Committee for Dalit Christians  (NCCDC) and the National Council for Dalit Christians (NCDC) on the 25th to 27th July 2011 culminating in a march to the parliament on the 28th July 2011 to demand Scheduled Caste status for Dalit Christians and Muslims.

It is a matter of great concern for the Church in India that its own brothers and sisters who belong to the Dalit community but are Christians, continue to suffer discrimination and marginalization. They are denied their constitutional right of being Scheduled Castes. National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) along with Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) have taken many initiatives such as intense lobbying, seminars, rallies, processions and demonstrations. Many have been extending prayerful support and the efforts have brought certain positive results and exerted a considerable pressure upon governments and the concerned authorities. However, it isnecessary to accelerate our initiatives locally, regionally and nationally to achieve our goal that is, obtaining Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians.

Christians of Scheduled Caste Origin (CSCO), also called Dalit Christians, have been asserting their right for equal Constitutional provisions on a par with Dalits of this country. This has been denied to them historically by the Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950, Paragraph 3. This exclusion of people of Scheduled Caste (SC) Origin who adhere to religions other than Hinduism from their fundamental rights has caused great concern and has been debated from the very beginning of its promulgation. If providing reservation is a way of including the historically excluded, then denying it merely on the basis of religion is a serious violation of the Constitution and its principles of Secularism and Freedom of Religion. The paragraph 3 of the Order denies the constitutional rights of Christian and Muslims Dalits. On the basis of this argument, various attempts have been made to ensure the Scheduled Caste rights to them.

The NCCI-CBCI-NCDC Campaign coordinators have obtained the letters of support for this cause from major political parties except BJP. Moreover, prominent Dalit leaders Kumari Mayawati and Mr. Ramvilas Paswan have sent their letters to the Prime Minister of India strongly supporting reservation to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims.

The Justice Ranganath Misra Commission constituted by the UPA government itself has reiterated the same. The study by the University of Delhi – Dalits in the Muslim and Christian Communities: A Status Report on Current Social Scientific Knowledge by Satish Deshpande has clearly said that paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes Order 1950) has to be deleted by appropriate legal means.

The National Commission for Minorities has already given a reply to the Union Government stating that Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims should be included in the Scheduled Caste list. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has expressed the same in April 2010.

So, it is quite evident now that, it is not the Constitutional mandate which is the hurdle, but the lack of genuine political will of the ruling elite of the country to uphold and concede the Constitutional rights to the Muslim and Christian Dalits.  In spite of the observations of the Mandal judgment and irrespective of the recommendations by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Minorities and the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission the ruling party and the government are not fulfilling their constitutional obligations.

This calls for commitment to intensify our collective efforts to secure equal rights to Dalit Christians and Muslims.  The National Coordination Committee for Dalit Christians (NCCDC-NCCI & CBCI) and National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) has therefore requested the Bishops, Head of the Churches, Christian Institutions, Clergy and Lay people to participate in the massive Hunger Strike and Parliament March in large numbers from 25th to 27th July 2011 at New Delhi ending with a Parliament March on 28th July 2011. 

– Commission on Policy, Governance and Public Witness- NCCI.

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