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ICC Note:

A Union Minister has claimed that the Government of India opposes granting equal rights to low caste Muslims and Christians because it would “encourage conversions” and “weaken the Hindu religion.” In India, low caste Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists are granted scheduled caste benefits that are meant to help their communities break free from the discrimination of India’s caste system. The government claims these same benefits should not be extended to Christians and Muslims because their religions do not believe in the caste system. Yet, many Christians from low caste backgrounds are still treated as low caste despite their religious identity. It is not like the issue of untouchability becomes moot when someone says they are no longer low caste because they are Christian. Instead, this is a scheme by India’s government to keep many low caste Hindus from converting to Christianity or Islam where they are taught that all men are equal. 

2/16/2016 India (Daily News & Analysis) – Claiming that extending reservation in government jobs to Dalits of minority communities would encourage conversions, Union Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot on Monday said the Centre has told the Supreme Court that it was “not agreeable to” granting them such rights.

Strongly opposing recommendations of the Ranganath Mishra Commission and the Sachar Committee for reservation to Dalits of Christian and Muslim minority communities, he told a gathering at a Hindu leadership conclave here that there is no provision in the Constitution to grant reservation to Dalits who convert to other religions. The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment also said any such step would “weaken the Hindu religion”. “Our government has given in writing to the apex Court that it does not agree with the reports of the Ranganath Mishra Commission or the Sachar Committee.

“We won’t accord Scheduled Caste status to those who have converted. We are following the Constitution in letter and spirit,” Gehlot said at the function, organised by the Hindu Aikya Vedi, a Sangh Parivar outfit in Kerala. He noted that reservation was provided to Dalits in Hindu community to uplift them socially and economically from the ill-practice of untouchability and said such a practice does not exist in Christian and Muslim communities. So those who converted to these religions should not be granted SC status.

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