Christian leaders leaders have welcomed Congress party's promised to grant Scheduled caste (SC( status to Christians and Muslims from Dalit background but with caution.
The sub manifesto of the grand old party released few days ago has offered Dalit Christians and Muslims to get Schedule Caste status which will allow them to enjoy the same quota privilege reserved for Dalit Hindus and others. According to the current law, Dalit Muslims and Christians are not eligible to get SC status.
Christian and Muslim groups have been demanding for the past decade to the successive government to grant the same right to all Dalits irrespective of their religious background as recommended by the Ranganath Mishra Commission -- which has recommended the same so that Dalits from Muslim and Christian backgrounds too can access to reservation and benefits granted by the government to these backward communities.
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, the general secretary of National Council of Churches in India, said it is "encouraging". "We'll wait till action is taken. Even if the Congress is in the opposition, we'd like to see them strive to attain this."
"The court asked the government for its response, but, they chose to remain mum. Protesting Dalit Christians were beaten by the police in December 2013," said Dr. John Dayal, secretary general of All India Christian Council. "The government does not have to do anything more than tell the SC that they agree to give Dalit Christians and Muslims their constitutional rights as are given to Dalits who follow Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism."
Last December, Christian leaders from all backgrounds came together and demanded the recommendation of the commission to be implemented as soon as possible. The helpless leaders were lathi charged, attacked with water cannons in cold weather; they were later arrested too.
Although the Prime Minister promised them to look into the matter, it has not come to fruition so far and now it has featured in the sub manifesto. The implementation part remains to be seen as the general election is going on, and according to various polls, Congress' chance of forming the government is slim.
Christians welcome Congress' manifesto promising Scheduled caste status to Dalit Christians
Published 30 April 2014 | Babu Thomas