Minority leaders demand reservation for Christian dalits
The Police arrested several Christians including the Catholic Archbishop of Delhi, who defied prohibitory orders and marched towards the Parliament House demanding reservation for their brethren from dalit groups. Thousands of Christians from various denominations gathered at Jantar Mantar of Delhi in India, before marching to the Parliament House. The march was led among others by Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi. The police stopped the marchers after a short distance on the Parliament Street.
Mass Rally to Parliament House
As the protest on the Parliament Street is banned, the police used force to stop the marchers. However, the gatherers insisted on marching to the Parliament House and the police arrested them and took them in a public transport bus to the nearest Parliament Street Police Station.
Arrested by Police
The arrested also included the General Secretary of Church of North India - Alwan Masih, Secretary of Religious Liberty Commission of Evangelical Fellowship of India - Rev. Vijayesh Lal, General Secretary of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) - Roger Gaikwad, President of National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) - Mary John, Member of Delhi Minorities Commission - A C Michael, Member of National Integration Council and Secretary General of All India Christian Council - John Dayal and Member of Parliament - Anwar Ali.
Several priests, nuns and lay leaders were wounded when the police used canes and water cannons to stop the marchers. The organizers have lodged a complaint with the women cell of the police station against the Delhi police for male policemen assaulting and beating Catholic nuns and other women with baton and manhandling some of them.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, expressed deep distress over the untoward incident that took place at Jantar Mantar, where Police has resorted to lathi-charge and used water cannons against a peaceful demonstration of Dalit Christians organized by the Dalit Christian National Coordination Committee.
Minority leaders Visiting Prime Minister
In this connection, a delegation of religious minority leaders including MPs, Minister of State for Finance JD Seelam (Congress), D Raja (CPI), and Vasanthi Stanley (DMK) met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Parliament House, demanding reservation for Christian and Muslim Dalits. After the meeting with Prime Minister, Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi said that they placed before the Prime Minister their request for justice to Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin.
"The Prime Minister listened to us with all frankness and complete concern for the issue...He has promised to place the issue before the Cabinet and do whatever he can in his power to see that the issue is resolved," Couto said. The Archbishop said the delegation also complained to the Prime Minister about the detention of several Christians as well as Muslims who staged a "peaceful" march to Parliament House.
President of National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) - Mary John said the groups want the federal United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government to take speedy steps to implement the recommendations of commissions it had set up to study the matter. As an immediate step, they want the government to introduce a bill in the ongoing winter session of parliament to amend a constitutional provision that keeps Christians and Muslims out.
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