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Equal Rights to Dalit Christians; Protestors Arrested In Delhi

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altNEW DELHI, DEC 11: National Protest to demand Scheduled Castes Status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims was held on Dec. 11 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.

More than 3000 people including many Catholic and Protestant Bishops, priests, nuns, Christian leaders, Maulanas and Muslims in large number participated in the protest.


The Protesters started gathering at Jantar Mantar near Kerala House from 10 am onwards. On the Catholic side Archbishop of Delhi Anil Couto, chairperson, CBCI office for SC/BC Bishop Neethinathan, Bishop of Vellore Soundararaju, Bishop of Nellore M.D Pragasam, Bishop of Faridabad Kuriakos Bharnikulanngara, Bishop of Khandwa Aroka Sebastian Durairaj SVD, Bishop of Chandigarh Ignetius Mascarenhas participated in the protest.


The public meeting started at 11 am. At about 12 pm the march to Parliament started.

The protesters crossed the police barricade and marched towards the parliament peacefully. The police stopped the protesters and used water cannons with dirty water.


The police lathi charged the people in which many people including priests, nuns were wounded. Since the people refused to disperse from the place the people including Members of the Parliament Azeez Basha and Ali Anwar, bishops, priests and nuns were arrested and taken to the Parliament Police Station by buses.


The Catholic Bishops arrested were Archbishop Anil Couto, Bishop Neethinathan, Bishop Soundararaju, Bishop M.D. Pragasam, Bishop Aroka Sebastian Durairaj SVD and Bishop Ignatius Mascarenhas.


Minister J.D. Seelan and D. Raja MP negotiated with the office of the Prime Minister and promised to get appointment with the Prime Minister on Dec. 12.

With this promise the protesters agreed to be released and came out of the police station after 5 pm.


The highlights of the events:


People participated actively for their human rights with real sense of sacrifice. There was representation from all over India from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, from all the denominations and from the Muslim communities. Representation and cooperation from the Archdiocese of Delhi was significant. There were large number of priests and nuns (CRI). People were brave enough to jump over and break the barricade and marched towards the parliament.  Even after lathi charge and many were wounded people stood firm insisting their demand. Dirty water was used in the water cannon and despite of the cold season the people sacrificed for the cause of the people.


The bishops marched with the people and got hurt and were arrested with the people. The bishops remained with the people when they were courted arrest till in the evening. The people felt that their shepherds were with them in their struggle and suffering.


Thus the UPA Government treated non-violent protesters who were Archbishops, priests, nuns, maulanas women and Christian leaders. We hope that the UPA Government will do justice to the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims before the general election.


By Fr. Devasagayaraj, Secretary, CBCI Office for SC/BC 

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