Indian Catholic News

Indian Christians observe Black Day for Dalit rights

Governments have denied statutory benefits, quotas in jobs and educational assistance to Christians of Dalit origin.

 
New Delhi: 

Indian Christians observed a "Black Day" Aug. 10 to express solidarity with the socially oppressed and poor Dalit groups who suffer from a discriminative state policy.

Some 200 hundred people wore black badges, sat with placards, joined in street plays and said prayers as they protested a 67-year-old government policy that denied social welfare benefits to Dalit Christians.

Successive governments have denied statutory benefits such quotas in government jobs and educational assistance to Christians of Dalit origin, while allowing it for their Hindu counterparts.

Christian groups have agreed to observe a Black Day every Aug. 10, five days ahead of Indian Independence Day.

The Indian constitution guarantees Dalits special reservations to improve their socio-economic status. But Christian and Muslim dalits are denied these benefits on the grounds that their religions do not recognize the caste system.

Father Z. Devasagaya Raj, secretary of the Indian bishops' office for Dalits said political parties believe Dalit Hindus are not joining Christianity for the fear of losing these benefits. They fear that if the discrimination is ended there would be mass conversion to Christianity, he said.

Father Raj said though the caste system is legally prohibited, they are social realities that even a change of religion does not erase.

According to Father Raj, Christians form some 25 million people in India but 70 percent of them are Dalit and tribal people.

Source: UCAN

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