Priests back lawyers to help marginalized groups

May 7, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, May 3, 2016: A new lawyers’ forum to coordinate legal aid to Dalit and indigenous people will help pressure the government into action, said Catholic priests assisting these two groups.

The new forum AMOD, launched April 30 in New Delhi, also will focus on providing legal help to the poor and religious minorities.

Father Z. Devasagaya Raj, secretary of the Indian bishops’ office for Dalits and indigenous people, said bringing “all concerns onto one platform will have more weight in pressuring the government.”

Father Ranjit Tigga, head of the department of tribal studies at the Jesuit-run Indian Social Institute in New Delhi, expressed hope that the forum would make a difference in the lives of such people.

These groups constitute 85 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people but in the present socio-political situation they “are left to fend for themselves,” said P.I. Jose, convener of the forum that represents some 25 voluntary organizations.

Thomas Franklin Caesar, a lawyer and Dalit Christian activist, said the new forum is the “right platform as we can come here together which will have more impact than fighting alone.”

About 60 percent of India’s 27 million Christians are from Dalit or tribal origins.

– ucan

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