08/11/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), Christians in India observed a “black day” on August 10 in solidarity with Dalit Christians. This observance was held to highlight individuals who are denied Scheduled Caste protections and benefits simply due to their religious identity.
Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist Dalits are given special protections and benefits due to their status as Scheduled Castes. These protections and benefits were afforded to these groups due to the discrimination their communities faced for thousands of years as the lowest sections of the caste system.
However, August 10 marks the day that a presidential degree was issued in 1950 denying Scheduled Caste status to Christian and Muslim Dalits. This was done on grounds that their religions do not recognize the caste system. Unfortunately, Christian and Muslim Dalits still face the same discriminatory challenges as other Dalits, despite their identities as Christians and Muslims.
“Churches of all denominations in the country are in favor of giving Dalit Christians their due,” Father Vijay Kumar Nayak, Secretary of the Indian Catholic Bishops’ Office for Dalits and Lower Classes, told UCAN. “We have mobilized the masses and put pressure on the constitutional bodies to look into the matter.”
Currently the matter of Schedule Caste status is before the Supreme Court of India. Christian and Muslim Dalits argues that Scheduled Caste status should be afforded to their communities as they face the same discrimination as Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists.
“Our peaceful protests will continue till we get justice,” Father Nayak told UCAN. “We have high hopes our case may come up for hearing before the Supreme Court in India this year.”
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