Scheduled caste benefits to dalit Christians, Muslims looked into: PM

Last Updated: Sunday, March 13, 2011 - 19:08

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh has said the issue of extending scheduled caste benefit
to dalit Christians and dalit Muslims is being "seriously
looked", according to a Mumbai-based Christian body whose
members met him on Saturday.

"On extending SC benefit to dalit Christians and
Muslims, the Prime Minister said the same was being seriously
looked at and a consensus was sought to be achieved. Once this
was done, the Supreme Court would be intimated," a release by
the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) said.

The Mumbai-based organisation had on Saturday led a
delegation to the Prime Minister.

Members of the delegation included the Archbishop
Vincent Concessao of Delhi, Justice Michael Saidanha, CSF
general secretary Joseph Dias and President of the Truth
Seekers International Sunil Sardar.

Archbishop Vincent Concessao told the Prime Minister
that the government needed to act soon on the issue of the SC
status to dalit Christians and Muslims as dithering on its
part was being viewed negatively by the minorities.

"The Supreme Court is expected to hear a key case,
when it expects the government to give its opinion on a
challenge to Paragraph 3 of Article 341 of the Constitution
(Scheduled Caste Order) 150.

"More than dozen individuals and advocates including
dalit Christians and Muslims have joined the case, which has
has had numerous hearings and delays since early 2004," the
release said.

The CSF said that the government already has enough
political support on the issue with Chief Ministers of Bihar,
Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu publicly urging the Centre to
restore dalit Christians` rights.

Rangnath Mishra Commission, which suggested, steps to
improve the socio-economic conditions of minorities, has also
favoured giving SC status to dalit Christians and dalit
Muslims.

"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh listened patiently to
the delegation and assured Christians that the country was
indebted to the community for its social services, which
greatly surpassed its minuscule numbers as a micro
reality...he also said he would all in his capacity to allay
the fears and insecurities, the Christians were experiencing,"
the release said.

The delegation had discussed three issues with the
Prime Minister including the long standing demand for
extending SC status to dalit Christians and Muslims, the rise
of anti-Christian violence in Karnataka and Orissa and the
demolition of the Mumbai Crosses and religious structures as
per the Supreme Court directives.

The CSF said that the Prime Minister was concerned
about the deteriorating law and order situation coupled with
the rising communalism in Karnataka and Orissa.

The Prime Minister said he would ask Home Minister P
Chidamabram to look into the reports of violence against
Christian communities coming from states, it said.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, March 13, 2011 - 19:08

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