Indian prelate praises minister's support for Dalit rights

Religious affiliations should not deprive citizens of their constitutional rights, Cardinal Cleemis says

April 14, 2016
Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, the president of the national bishops' conference, has applauded chief minister Nitish Kumar of Bihar state for his support to provide quotas for Dalit religious minorities.

The cardinal on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India applauded Kumar’s promise of support for Dalits and said “we would give our whole hearted support for this.”

Kumar told media earlier in April that “the time has come to give quotas to low-caste Muslims and Christians who have long been deprived of this right because of their religious affiliations."

Christians of Dalit, or lower-caste origin, have been denied quotas in government jobs and educational institutions on the grounds that Christianity does not approve caste differences.

The Christian campaign for Dalit rights began in 1950 when a presidential order limited quotas only to Hindu Dalits.

The order was later amended in 1956 and 1990 to include Sikhs and Buddhists, respectively. But Dalit Christians and Muslims continue to excluded.

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