The social and media Committee of Mangalore diocesan pastoral council staged a protest in front of Dakshina Kannada district Deputy Commissioner’s office, here, on Thursday, August 10 at 3.30pm, demanding amendment of Constitutional Order 1950 (Scheduled Caste) in order to include Dalit Christians also in the Scheduled Caste.
The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India, (CBCI), New Delhi office for SC/BC observes August 10 as ‘Black Day’ to protest against the unjust Constitutional Order 1950 which excludes Dalit Christians from the SC list on the basis of religion. It can be recalled that the Constitutional Order 1950 (Scheduled Caste) was amended in 1956 to include the Sikhs and in 1990 to include the Buddhists.
Monsignor Denis Moras Prabhu, vicar general of Mangaluru diocese, in his message urged the union government to take up the issue as early as possible and do justice to the people who have been deprived of their rights for the last seven decades.
Dr Vincent Alva, the principal of Milagres College, Kallianpur, Udupi said, ‘If yes for them, why not for us?’ is the question asked today all over India on behalf of the Dalit Christians regarding their exclusion from the SC list and that is the reason why August 11 is observed as Black Day. The then President of India Babu Rajendra Prasad signed the Constitution Order 1950 because of which people coming under SC category are entitled to certain facilities which the SC Christians are deprived of because of their faith. Hence, it is our demand that they too should be included in this category. The SC facilities are extended to the Sikh and Buddhist communities but Christians and Muslims are kept out from this privilege. Is it not injustice,’ he asked.
M P Noronha, reputed lawyer and the secretary of diocesan pastoral council said that exclusion of Dalit Christians in the SC list is violation of Article 14, 15, 19 and 25. When the Scheduled Tribes don’t lose their status when religion is changed; why the Scheduled Castes should be denied the same. The Constitution Order 1950 is amended in 1990 to include the converts to Buddhism. Hence it is injustice to deny this privilege to the Dalits who embrace Christianity. According to Article 14 all Indians are equal. If that is so why there is discrimination when it comes to Dalit Christians? It is injustice to deny privileges just because one changes the faith. We hear a lot about Uniform Civil Code. Now is the opportune time for the union government to treat all Dalits equally irrespective of their faith. Hence, the union government should amend the Constitution 1950 to include Dalit Christians in the list, he said.
Followed by the Black Day protest, a memorandum was submitted to Deputy Commissioner, to forward to President and Prime Minister of India.
Fr Onil D’Souza, the convener of social and media Committee of diocesan pastoral council delivered the preliminary address on organizing the protest and welcomed the dignitaries and the assembled people.
Fr Peter Gonsalves, assistant director of St Antony’s Ashram, Jeppu, here, compered the programme.