PRESS STATEMENT FROM CBCI AND SC/ST/BC
CBCI Centre, 1, Ashok Place, Gole Dakkhana, New
Delhi 110001 Ph: 334 4695, 334 4470
CHRISTIAN LEADERS MEET VAJPAYEE
NEW DELHI, December 6, 1999
National leaders of the Christian community met the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee at his residence tonight and called on the government to take urgent steps to meet the pressing demands of the small minority community on affecting their legal, social rights and their physical security.
A memorandum presented to the Prime Minister called for restoration of the rights of Dalit Christians, changes in adoption laws to ensure that Christian couples too could legally adopt children, and reforms in marriage, divorce and security laws.
The Christian leaders told the Prime minister that while many of those responsible for violence against the community in the last two years had yet to be brought to book, fresh threats were being received. Referring specially to Gujarat, the spokesmen told the Prime minister that hate literature and campaigns had increased in recent weeks. There was a renewed threat to a church in Gujarat’s Dang district. The delegation urged the prime minister to ensure that the Gujarat government maintained peace and assured the safety of the community and its places of worship in the Christmas season.
The delegation led by Archbishop Alan de Lastic , President, Catholic Bishops Conference of India, and Dr. Rajaratnam, President, National Council of Churches India, consisted of Church of North India Bishop of Delhi Karam Masih , CBCI deputy secretary general Fr. George Pereira , United Christian Forum for Human Rights national convenor John Dayal, Rev. Fr. Lourduswamy, Executive Secretary SC. ST Commission, NCCI Vice president Dr. Oliver , Air Marshal Denzil Keelor , President of New Delhi YMCA, Dr. James Massey, Ex-Member National Commission for Minorities, Mr. John Anchanmani , Treasurer, NCCI . Dr. Dominic Emmanuel , PRO, CBCI, and Sr. Dolores Rego, General Secretary, CRI.
Speaking on behalf of over 70,000 nuns in India, Sr Delores told the Prime minister that the religious sisters loved to serve the people of India, but were feeling a threat to their security. In an emotional voice, she urged the Prime minister to ensure security for religious women.
While focusing on the issue of Dalit Christians, personal laws and security, the Delegation also urged the Prime minister to declare 2000 AD as Yesu Christ Jayanthi Year and to give Christian pilgrims to the Holy land concessions given to Haj and other pilgrimages.
The following are extracts from the Memorandum given to the prime Minister today:
Released to the Press statement by John Dayal on behalf of the Delegation
LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER, SHRI ATAL BEHARI VAJPAYEE FROM SC/ST/BC OFFICE OF NEW DELHI
11th November 1999
Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee
Sub : Equal Rights to Dalit Christians
We, the Christian Community in India express our gratitude to the Government for having extended Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes reservation in the Loksabha and state assemblies for a further period of 10 years from January 26, 2000 and assurance of Hon’ble Minister for law and Justice Shri. Ram Jethimalani to consider the proposal of Shri Eduardo Falairo M.P for extension of reservation to the Scheduled Caste members who had converted to Christianity and Islam. (The Asian Age 29, October 99, Page –3)
The denial of human rights to Dalit Christians is a blatant violation of the provisions of the Constitution, especially of Article 14, 15, 16 & 25 and is also a violation of Article 18 of Universal Declaration on Human Rights Laws by the UNO of which India is a signatory.
The successive Governments have assured to extend reservation to Dalit Christians but have failed to fulfill it. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi have unequivocally stated that a change of religion does not bring about any change in the status of the untouchable convert. All the Backward class Commissions including the Mandal Commission have proved this fact beyond doubt. The Christian community of India is utterly dismayed at the inordinate delay of the Government to render justice despite airing their grievances through Relay Fast, Nationwide closure of Christian Educational Institutions, Mass Rallies, Hunger Strikes and Prayer Meetings throughout the Country.
We pin our hope in your commitment to social justice (Samajik Nyaya) and social harmony (Samajik Samarasta) and we earnestly request you to make use of your good office to extend Scheduled Caste rights to the Christians of Scheduled Caste origin.