Christians in India observe Black Day for Dalit rights

Christians in India observe Black Day for Dalit rightsAll Christian denominations in India has planned to observe August 10, 2014 as “Black Day” to protest against the discrimination meted out by the Government to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims by not granting them Scheduled Caste benefits as a blatant act of religious discrimination and in contravention of the Constitutional provision of equality. They have been observing August 10 as Black Day since 2010, as it is the date on which the controversial order was signed in 1950.

Christian Denominations

The Christian denominations including Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) will offer special Mass and prayers on the day. Meetings, rallies, demonstrations, hunger fasts, submitting memorandum, candle vigils and other forms of demonstrations will be also organized by the Christian communities throughout India to show support and solidarity to the suffering Christians of Scheduled Caste Origin.

Justice Ranganath Misra Commission’s report

Most of the National and Regional political parties have also supported the demand of Scheduled Caste status to Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin by writing letters to the Prime Minister and concerned authorities. The Christian community has renewed its demand to the Government of India to come forward to resolve the issue immediately without further delay and that it should give appropriate answer to the query of the Supreme Court based on the recommendation of Justice Ranganath Misra Commission’s report.

National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM)

The National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM) popularly known as Justice Ranganath Misra Commission’s Report says the following “Constitution Scheduled Caste Order 1950 para 3 is unconstitutional and it is a black letter written outside the Constitution introduced through the back door by an executive order”. "We recommend that Para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) order 1950, which originally restricted the scheduled caste net to the Hindus and later opened it to Sikhs and Buddhists, thus still excluding from its purview the Muslims, Christians, Jains and Parsis etc – should be wholly deleted by appropriate action so as to completely de-link the scheduled caste status from religion and make the scheduled castes net fully religion – neutral like that of the Scheduled Tribes”.

National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has also recommended that Scheduled Caste status must be extended to the Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin. The National Commission for Minorities too has given its consent. Till now twelve State Governments and Union Territories have recommended to Union of India for granting SC status to these people.

State Assemblies

The Bihar State Assembly, Uttar Pradesh State Assembly and Andhra Pradesh state Assembly have passed resolution for granting SC status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the years 2000, 2006 and 2009 respectively. Different commissions appointed by the Government have recommended that Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims should be included in the Scheduled Caste list.
In Delhi, the Black Day will be observed on August 12 from 4.30 to 5.30 pm at Church of North India Bhawan. Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, Archbishop Vincent Concessao, Emeritus of Delhi and Mr. Alwan Masih, General Secretary of Church of North India (CNI) will preside over the programme.
CBCI said that blocking scheduled caste benefits to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims is a blatant act of religious discrimination and in contravention of the Constitutional provision of equality. The communities are denied of their Constitutional rights for more than 64 years as the controversial order was signed in 1950.
A Civil Writ petition filed in 2004 in the Supreme Court of India praying the deletion of paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Caste) order 1950 is still pending since the Government is not replying.
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