Catholic Bishops Conference of India
National Council of Churches in India
United Christian Forum for Human Rights

CBCI Centre, 1, Ashok Place, Gole Dakkhana, New Delhi 110001 Ph: 334 4695, 334 4470
Chairman : Archbishop Alan de Lastic Co-Chairman: Dr K Rajaratnam
Coordinators: Bishop Karam Masih , Archbishop Vincent Concessao Convenor: John Dayal

Church tells government to restore Dalit Christian Rights
Christians seek right to adopt children
Nuns demand security, Vajpayee told of threats in Gujarat etc

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:


Equal Rights to Dalit Christians : At the dawn of Independence and the adoption of the new Constitution of the Republic of India, pro-active legislation was enacted to empower the Dalits who had suffered from three millennia of subjugation and discrimination. This laudatory Constitutional provision was however communalized when through a Presidential order in 1950, the rights and privileges were limited only to Hindus. Later, it was amended twice to include the Sikhs and Buddhists through sustained struggle, won for themselves all privileges and rights given to Dalit Hindus. The Dalit Christians however are being still denied these privileges accorded to other citizens of their status in the Indian society. This discrimination violates all norms of natural justice and is against the avowed principle of secular India. Successive governments gave assurance but failed to fulfill it. The Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi and the architect of the Constitution, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, have unequivocally stated that a change in religion does not bring about any change in the social status of the former untouchable convert. They continue to suffer from the same social, economic and educational infirmities. In fact the situation worsens for them as they are denied all facilities in many areas which are given to their kin. Your Government is committed to Social Justice. Hence we would like you to implement it in restoring the rights of the Dalit Christians.
II. PERSONAL LAWS : We take this opportunity to impress on the government once again to move necessary legislation in Parliament at the earliest. The four bills are

  1. The Christian Marriage Bill (the existing one is over 100 years old),
  2. The Divorce Bill (which apart from being more than a century old, is also discriminatory against women)
  3. The Christian Adoption Bill (At present Christians are discriminated against as they can only assume guardianship of a child, while Hindus can legally adopt children)
  4. The Succession Bill, ( Which regulates equitable share of property among heirs).

All four Bills have been pending with government for long, and successive ministries have not brought the Bills before Parliament. The Christian community is deeply distressed at this apparent lack of concern by the governments in power.

III . Yesu Christ Jayanthi 2000 : The government has accepted to release a stamp on the 2000 anniversary of the birth of Jesus, initiating the celebrations of Yesu Christ Jayanthi. Mr. Vajpayee had in 1998 assured that the government of India would join the people in celebrating Yesu Christ Jayanthi 2000. We hope that as the year 1999 comes to a close, the NDA government will take suitable steps in keeping with its tradition of joining in the celebrations of other communities.
IV. Protection of Christian Minorities : Many State governments and Central organisations have been tardy in bringing to book all those who have committed acts of violence against members of our community and those who continue to carry out a virulent hate campaign against the Church and the community. We hope your government will take steps to stop such harassment wherever it occurs and to ensure that the rule of law prevails.

Released to the Press statement by John Dayal on behalf of the Delegation

Please send your comments:  or



11th November 1999  

Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee   
Minister of State for Law & Justice
Shastri Bhawan
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road
New Delhi – 110 001

Sub : Equal Rights to Dalit Christians

Hon’ble Minister,

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.

Yours sincerely,

Executive Secretary, CBCI FOR SC/ST/BC,

Please send your comments:  or