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Christians in India Denied Constitutional Rights

ICC Note:

Christians in India face many trials. Among those trials is the denial of Constitutional rights in India. The Indian government has refused to give them a place in the country's caste system which effectively deprives them for fully enjoying equal rights.   

11/24/2012 India (ChristianToday) - Millions of Indian Christians are being denied their constitutional rights by the government, which is refusing to give them a place in the country's hierarchical caste system.

According to the human rights group, Barnabas Aid the Indian Constitution recognises two groups of historically disadvantaged people, the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs).

Legislation exists to redress the socio-economic deprivation they have suffered and bolster their rights.

"But Christian Dalits and tribal Christians are being denied this important status on the grounds of their faith," said a spokesperson for the group.

"Muslim Dalits are also discriminated against. In 1950, the Indian Parliament granted Scheduled Caste recognition to Hindu Dalits; this was extended to Buddhist and Sikh Dalits in 1956 and 1990 respectively.

"Two-thirds of India's 27 million Christians are Dalits, the category of people at the very bottom of Indian society. Christian and Muslim Dalits have been campaigning for equal recognition for years; their latest protest took place on November 15, in New Delhi."

Samuel Jayakumatr, executive secretary of the Commission for Policy, Governance and Public Witnesses, said that the two communities are worse off socio-economically than their Hindu counterparts.

"Given the fact that the SC status and the benefits that go with it are aimed to address historical caste-based socio-economic deprivation, the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims have more compelling case for SC status than many others."

Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said, "The government is making fun of tribal Christians, and prevents the community from enjoying their constitutional rights."

A senior Christian leader in India said that the continued denial of SC status to these communities made a "complete mockery" of the country's democratic and secular credentials.

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