C:\Users\Sushma\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\F3SG1L8W\cni leaders led by alwan maish.jpgCHURCH LEADERSHIP FIGHTING FOR SC RIGHTS FOR THE DALIT CHRISTIANS LATHI CHARGED, WATER CANONED, COURT ARRESTED AND KEPT IN POLICE CUSTODY  

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC), National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) along with the Church of North India (CNI) jointly organized a dharna and rally at JantarMantar, New Delhi on December 11, 2013, demanding equal treatment by the Indian Government and justice to Dalit Christians by wayof according Scheduled Caste status to them.

Mr. AlwanMasih, General Secretary, The Synod of the Church of North India led a strong delegation of hundreds of members from across Church of North India to protest against discrimination meted out by the Government of India to Dalit Christians by not according them SC status as Christians. Bishop M.U. Kanab  of the Diocese of  Marathwada , Bishop Warris Masih of the Diocese of Rajasthan , Bishop Yunous Massey of the Diocese of Chandigarh , Bishop P.P.Habil of the Diocese of Agra,  Bishop Naresh Ambala  and senior Pastors from the Diocese of Delhi were personally present to lead and encourage their members during the rally .Speaking during the rally ,  the General secretary  said that, “denial of reservation status to the Dalit Christians is a discrimination and human rights violation, thereby demanding Government of India to reply to Supreme Court and give equal rights to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims as have been given to other Dalit’s in India .The Dalit Christians have been struggling for decades voicing and demanding through various means to strike down the Presidential Order of 1950 which denies equal rights to Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin on the basis of religion. The General Secretary underlined that Para 3 of the Presidential Order 1950 is contrary to and violative of the fundamental rights assured by the Constitution of India to Christians and Muslims”

The protestors from various dioceses of the Church of North India, which includedBishops,Pastors, Lay leaders men, women and young people, gathered at the CNI Bhavan and started for the venue of the rally at Jantar Mantar with prayers by Bishop M.U.  Kasab, Bishop P.P.Habil and Mr. Prem Masih Acting Treasurer CNI Synod. During the rally, leaders from different denominations and Dalit organizations addressed the protestors and called upon them to peacefully fight against discrimination against Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. A peaceful dharna holding banners with  slogans protesting anddemanding equal treatment by the Indian Government was organized .After the rally  when the Church leaders including Archbishops ,Bishops , Nuns ,  lay leaders , and leaders of  Dalit Christian organizations along with the   Muslim Leaders  were silently marching from JantarMantar towards the Parliament House demanding their due  rights,suddenly the police intervened and  brutally cane charged them. In order to disperse the peaceful protestors, the police resorted to use of water cannons and threw cold and dirty water with unbearable pressure on the protestors. As a result,a number of the protestors got badly injured.When despite all this high handed ness   by the police, the protestors refused to leave the Protest March, the senior’s police officers present at the occasion declared that all the protestors werecourt arrested. Theyordered brought buses and by taking the protestors in custody took them to Parliament Street Police station and confined them to police custody.Those who courted arrest and were taken to police custody included the Christian leaders along with the CNI Synod, General Secretary, Mr. Alwan Masih, Bishop M.U. Kasab, Bishop Yunous Massey, Bishop Naresh Ambala, Bishop Warris Masih,  Archbishop Anil JT Couto, Bishop Neetinathan,   Dr John Dayal, Revd. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary, NCCI, Mr. Samuel Jaykumar and Rev Philip Raj of NCCI,Mr. Vijayesh Lall EFI , Prof. Mary John NCDC , Mr. V. J. George, Mr. Franklin Caeser Thomas , other bishops and pastors, Fathers and nuns , women and youths .  In spite of many  having been badly   beaten and wet due to water thrown on them , even during the custody ,  the protestors kept shouting slogans against the Government  demanding SC rights for  Dalit  Christians and Dalit Muslims and they asked for the   intervention of the Prime Minister of India. Late in the evening a message was received that the Prime Minister has called a delegation of 15 Christian and Muslim Leaders on the following day in the Parliament house, to meet him and to   submit memorandum to him. After this the protestors were released from the police custody. 

This is acowardly act by the police, as the crowd comprised of top church leadership, bishops, priests, nuns including Christian leaders across the country.Church of North India is determined and hopes that these sacrifices and selfless efforts will not go in vain and will certainly result in continued and increased enthusiasm and determination towards getting thelegitimate rights for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in India  .This is the first time after  27 November 1997 that bishops and religious leaders were arrested for embracing and supporting the Dalit cause  and the first time when they were brutally  lathi charged and water cannoned by the police  .

Being a Dalit and Persecuted Church, the Church of North Indiastrongly supports the cause of Dalit Christians and is struggling with all possible prophetic efforts so that the issue could be addressed immediately and discussed in the Parliament of India.

Members of the core committee, Most Rev. Anil Couto, Archbishop of Delhi, MrAlwanMasih, General Secretary, CNI Synod, Revd. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary, NCCI, Prof. Dr. M. Mary John, Chairman, NCDC, Mr. Reyazuddin, All India United MuslimMorcha and Father Deva Sagayaraj, Secretary, CBCI, Mr. Samuel Jay Kumar NCCImet Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India on 12/12/13 in Parliament Room number 9 to uprise him about the situation and to put forth the anguish and pain the community is going through due to the denial of basic democratic right to the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. A memorandum demanding the following was given to the Prime Minister. 

      The UPA Government must take speedy steps to implement the recommendations of National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (RangnathMisra Commission), in the present session of parliament itself.  

      The UPA Government should immediately file a reply (court affidavit-written statement) to the query of HonorableSupreme Court of India, on the Writ Petition No.180/2004 pending in the Supreme Court for the past 9 years and put an end to its deliberate delaying tactics.

The Prime Ministergave a patient hearing, apologized for uncalled for police  Lathicharge  and water cannoning of the clergy and lay leadership of the Church ,  and assured the delegation to put up the matter before the Cabinet Committee  to take necessary  decision in this regard.

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ALWAN MASIH

GENERAL SECRETARY

CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA SYNOD