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India Dalit Leader’s UK-Visit Cancelled After Arrest

Monday, 22 May 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

Dalits live in difficult circumstances in India . NEW DELHI/LONDON (BosNewsLife) — Christian human rights investigators were canceling Monday, May 22, a planned United Kingdom visit of a leader of one of India ‘s most discriminated groups, the Dalits, after he was reportedly arrested.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said Dalit leader Udit Raj was arrested May 17 on his way to a protest in the Indian capital New Delhi .

He was detained overnight after he led a group of Dalits and other “backward caste” as well as doctors and activists in a demonstration to support a government’s plan to grant affirmative action benefits to lower caste students in higher education, an action apparently opposed by upper caste students.

UNCLEAR

It was not immediately clear on what charges he was held, but CSW said Raj has meanwhile been released.

In a statement obtained by BosNewsLife, Raj complained that his group had “to struggle against the power monopoly of the upper castes who have garnered most of the privileges in Indian life, including in the field of education.”

He stressed, “It is impossible to understand why the upper castes, with all their access to money, education and power, are not willing to share and include the majority backward castes and Dalits in the fruits of development and prosperity, and the building of a successful India .”

“UNTOUCHABLES”

Dalits, also known as “the untouchables” are one of the lowest castes in India ‘s ancient system of Hinduism. Right groups say that Hindu militants have been concerned about the spread of Christianity among this group, especially in rural areas.

“We are concerned that a national Dalit leader such as Udit Raj should be arrested, although we are pleased he has now been released. We regret that he is unable to come to London as planned,” said CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas.

“We will continue to stand with and speak out for the oppressed Dalit people of India until they can enjoy basic equal rights and religious freedom,” Thomas added.