Church Leaders Criticize India’s Decision to Deny Equal Rights to Low Caste Christians and Muslims

ICC Note:

Church leaders in India have criticized the government’s recent decision to reject extending equal rights to low caste Christians and Muslims. Low caste Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs enjoy special rights and privileges given to them by the government in India in an attempt to allow these communities to break free of the discrimination associated with the caste system. These same rights and privileges have been denied to Christians and Muslims from low caste backgrounds because, as a government official recently said, it would “encourage conversions” and would “hurt the Hindu religion.” This prioritization of Hinduism over Christianity and Islam shows that India isn’t entirely the pluralistic and secular nation it markets itself to be. 

2/18/2016 India (UCAN) – Christian leaders in India were left aghast by the government’s rejection of quotas for government jobs and educational institutions to Dalit Christians and Muslims, a right enjoyed by Hindu citizens.

“Though we knew about the stand of the government, it has now come out clearly on the issue. This is very humiliating for Dalit Christians and Muslims,” Samuel Jaikumar of the National Council of Churches in India told ucanews.com.

Thawar Chand Gehlot, the federal minister for social justice and empowerment reportedly said Feb. 16 that the Indian government was concerned that granting special rights to Dalit Christians and Muslims “would encourage conversions” and “weaken the Hindu religion.”

Father Z. Devasagayaraj, secretary of the Indian Catholic bishops’ commission of Dalit and indigenous people, told ucanews.com that the government’s policy “is against the multicultural, multi-religious nature of our country.”

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