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Dalit rights delay dismays supporters
Attorney general tells government 'go slow' on legal anomalyDalit Christian and Muslim protest in New Delhi (File photo)
- Bijay Kumar Minj, New Delhi
- February 25, 2011
â€śHis words are alarming, but we have full faith in the judiciary,â€ť Father Cosmon Arokiaraj, secretary of the Indian Catholic bishopsÂ´ commission for tribal and dalit communities said yesterday.
Attorney General Goolam Essaji Vahanvati reportedly told the federal governmentâ€™s Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs on this week that dalit issues posed many legal complications and currently â€śno decision was called for.â€ť
Christian groups have for decades demanded statutory rights for dalit Christians to boost their socioeconomic advancement.
About 70 per cent of Indiaâ€™s Christians are of dalit origin.
The Indian Constitution provides special seats in legislative houses, jobs and places in educational institutions for Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh dalits.
However, Christians and Muslims are denied these rights on the pretext that their religions do not recognize the caste system.
Christians argue this violates the constitution which grants equal rights to all citizens.
Father Arokiaraj says the Church is â€śdeeply concerned about the indefinite delayâ€ť in correcting this constitutional error.
â€śIt is a shame this government cannot implement what we have been demanding for 60 years,â€ť the Church official lamented.
Franklin Caesar Thomas, a dalit Christian who has taken the issue to the Supreme Court, says the attorney generalâ€™s statement makes no sense.
He said the Supreme Court is to deliberate on the matter very soon and if the attorney general wants to give his views, he should write to the court. â€śBut he has no right to judge the matterâ€ť he added.
The All India Christian Council condemned the attorney generalâ€™s comments.
â€śThis era of prevarication and political indecisiveness must end. Dalit Christians and Muslims must be given their rights now,â€ť it asserted.
Church urges immediate adoption of dalit-rights report
Christians threaten to withdraw support for ruling party