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Posted Online on Friday, 22 January 2010 08:39 IST

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Muslim Islamic NewsMuslim and Christian Leaders Meet Home Minister on Reservation for Dalit Muslims and Christians

The Milli Gazette

20 January 2010

New Delhi: Muslim and Christian leaders today met the Union Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram on the issue of Reservation for Dalit Muslims and Christians which is denied to them due to the 1950 presidential order which excludes Muslim and Christian Dalits from reservation and other benefits given to Hindu Dalits. Recently Mishra Commission has supported the long-standing demand for the extension of reservation to Muslim and Christian Dalits but the government so far did nothing to implement this recommendation of the commission.

The delegation comprised of Mujtaba Farooq, Secretary, Jamaat-e Islami Hind, Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, ex-President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, Maulana Asghar Ali Imam Mahdi, General Secretary, Jamiat Ahl-e Hadees, Dr Rev. Fr. G Cosmon Arokiaraj, Executive Secretary, CBCI Commission for SC/ST/BC and Rev. Dr Enos Das Pradhan, General Secretary, NCCI.

The delegation told the Home Minister that a great injustice is being done to Muslim and Christian Dalits who do not differ in any way from Hindu Dalits who are getting these benefits. The delegation asked the minister to consider on an urgent basis the implementation of the Mishra Commission recommendations including the one calling for an end to discrimination on the basis of religion. Mr Chidambram said the issue is under active consideration of the government. He accepted that though Islam and Christianity do not believe in castes, the lot of Muslim and Christian Dalits was no better than their Hindu counterparts.

 

Following is the text of the memorandum the delegation presented to the Home Minister:

 

20 January 2010

 

Shri P. Chidambaram

Hon’ble Union Minister for Home Affairs

North Block

New Delhi – 110 001

 

 

Subject: Request to implement the recommendation of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities to delete paragraph 3 of the Constitutional (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950.

 

Respected Sir,

 

Please accept prayerful greetings from leaders of Muslim and Christian communities.

 

We, concerned leaders of Muslim and Christians communities, express our deep gratitude to the Union Government of India for tabling the NCRLM report in the Parliament.  

 

As you are very well aware, the NCRLM report has important recommendation regarding Muslims and Christians of Scheduled Caste Origin, viz.:

 

“…that Para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 – which originally restricted the Scheduled Castes net to the Hindus and later opened it to Sikhs and Buddhists, thus still excluding from its purview the Muslims, Christians, Jains and Parsis, etc.- should be wholly deleted by appropriate action so as to completely de-link the Scheduled Caste status from religion and make the Scheduled Castes net fully religion-neutral like that of the Scheduled Tribes.” (16.3.5)

 

Here we would like to bring to your kind attention important findings of another important study, Dalits in the Muslim and Christians Communities: A Status Report on Current Social Scientific Knowledge, prepared for the National Commission for Minorities, Government of India, by Prof. Satish Deshpande with the assistance of Geetika Bapna of the Department of Sociology, University of Delhi, in 2008. This study says that it is beyond doubt that “DMs (Dalit Muslims) and DCs (Dalit Christians) are socially known and treated as distinct groups within their own religious communities.” It further says that it is an undisputable fact that “they are invariably regarded as ‘socially inferior’ communities by their co-religionists.” The study further says that both Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims are Dalits first and Christians and Muslims only second. (p.78)

 

The study goes on to say that social distance or superiority is asserted by non-Dalits, especially the ‘upper castes’ over Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims and it is practiced in different forms in various regions. Such variation is present in all Dalit communities of all religions. (p. 78). Inter-caste marriages between Dalits and non-Dalits among Christians and Muslims are not common, even prohibited and social sanctions are imposed on who break this taboo. Social segregation is also there in the sphere of worship and religious rituals [among Christians], with separate churches among Dalit Christians. Various modes of subordination exist in churches and mosques, as well as insistence on separate burial grounds. Occupational segregation and economic exploitation are also very common. (p. 78).  The study further says that since the last major judicial pronouncement on Dalit Christian issue, there is a lot more evidence available now on the social economical and educational backwardness of Dalit Christians and as per this study “there is no compelling evidence to justify denying SC status to Dalit Muslisms and Dalit Christians.” (p. 81)

 

The study emphatically concludes, “…based only on the descriptive and statistical evidence available, there is a strong case for including Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians in the Scheduled Caste category. There are compelling arguments in favour of such an inclusion based on principles of natural justice and fairness. The balance of pragmatic considerations is also in favour of their inclusion. According due statutory recognition to Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians would not only right a wrong, it would also remove an indefensible anomaly in our politico-legal system that can legitimately be construed as discriminatory. Whether or not such discrimination can be proven in a court of law, it will surely weigh on the conscience of every fair-minded Indian. (p. 83)

 

For more than five decades Muslims and Christians of Scheduled Caste Origin are being excluded from the process of development. Such an exclusion of a section of the people goes against the “inclusive growth” repeatedly invoked by the Union Government.   

 

We earnestly request you at this crucial juncture that the Ministry of Home Affairs may endorse the recommendations of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM) and extend Scheduled Castes status to Muslims and Christians of Scheduled Caste origin.   

 

Thanking you

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Mujtaba Farooq, Secretary, Jamaat-e Islami Hind

Maulana Niyaz Frooqi, Secretary, Jamiat Ulama-e Hind

Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, ex-President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat

Dr SQR Ilyas, Executive Member, All India Muslim Personal Law Board

Maulana Asghar Ali Imam Mahdi, General Secretary, Jamiat Ahl-e Hadees

Prof. M Mary John, President, National Council of Dalit Christians

Dr Rev. Fr. G Cosmon Arokiaraj, Executive Secretary, CBCI Commission for SC/ST/BC

Rev. Dr Enos Das Pradhan, General Secretary, NCCI

 

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