PM says extending SC benefits to dalit Christians looked into
"On extending SC benefit to dalit Christians and Muslims, the Prime Minister said the same was being seriously looked at and a consensus was sought to be achieved. Once this was done, the Supreme Court would be intimated," a release by the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) said.
The Mumbai-based organisation had yesterday led a delegation to the Prime Minister.
Members of the delegation included the Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi, Justice Michael Saidanha, CSF general secretary Joseph Dias and President of the Truth Seekers International Sunil Sardar.
Archbishop Vincent Concessao told the Prime Minister that the government needed to act soon on the issue of the SC status to dalit Christians and Muslims as dithering on its part was being viewed negatively by the minorities.
"The Supreme Court is expected to hear a key case, when it expects the government to give its opinion on a challenge to Paragraph 3 of Article 341 of the Constitution (Scheduled Caste Order) 150.
"More than dozen individuals and advocates including dalit Christians and Muslims have joined the case, which has had numerous hearings and delays since early 2004," the release said.
The CSF said that the government already has enough political support on the issue with Chief Ministers of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu publicly urging the Centre to restore dalit Christians` rights.
Rangnath Mishra Commission, which suggested, steps to improve the socio-economic conditions of minorities, has also favoured giving SC status to dalit Christians and dalit Muslims.
"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh listened patiently to the delegation and assured Christians that the country was indebted to the community for its social services, which greatly surpassed its minuscule numbers as a micro reality…he also said he would all in his capacity to allay the fears and insecurities, the Christians were experiencing," the release said.
The delegation had discussed three issues with the Prime Minister including the long standing demand for extending SC status to dalit Christians and Muslims, the rise of anti-Christian violence in Karnataka and Orissa and the demolition of the Mumbai Crosses and religious structures as per the Supreme Court directives.
The CSF said that the Prime Minister was concerned about the deteriorating law and order situation coupled with the rising communalism in Karnataka and Orissa.
The Prime Minister said he would ask Home Minister P Chidamabram to look into the reports of violence against Christian communities coming from states, it said.