India Police Detain Bishops In Dalit March

By Santosh Digal, BosNewsLife Asia Correspondent

bishops3
Bishops have in recent years become a voice for Dalit rights.


CHENNAI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- Several bishops were detained Friday, March 5, in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu where police halted a protest march against the alleged discrimination of Dalit Christians here and elsewhere in this mainly Hindu nation, Christian officials said.

Thousands of Christians had been participating for nearly a month in the 630 kilometer (391 miles) long 'March for Justice' from the town of Kanyakumari to the state capital Chennai, according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

As they arrived in Chennai Friday, March 5, security forces "prevented" demonstrators to walk further through the capital's center and "arrested" several Catholic bishops, including the Archbishopof Madras-Mylapore, A. M. Chinnappa, Archbishop of Madurai, Peter Fernando, and the Bishop of Chinglepet, A. Neethinathan, organizers said.

It was not immediately clear when the bishops would be released.

Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi reportedly refused to meet the church leaders and other demonstrators to discuss their demands for equal work and education opportunities for Dalit Christians.

'LOWEST CASTE'

Dalits are seen as the 'lowest caste' in India's ancient system of Hinduism, and many have turned to Christianity, church groups claim.

Authorities say they tackle discrimination by enforcing quotas for Hindu Dalits and other so-called "scheduled castes" in jobs and schools, but critics point out that this arrangement has not been extended to minority Dalit Christians and Muslims.

Although the Indian Constitution encourages the quota system, several non-Hindu groups have been excluded for the past 60 years on grounds that their religions do not follow the Hindu caste system, according to experts.

In a statement issued at the end of a tense Chennai rally, bishops and several other church groups, including the National Council of Dalit Christians, urged the federal and state governments to take "immediate action" to include Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the "scheduled caste list."

SPECIAL REPORT

They also asked the Tamil Nadu government to implement recommendations of a December report on religious discrimination by a commission headed by Ranganath Misra, India's former chief justice.

Misra's report suggested to "reserve" 10 percent of government jobs for Muslims and five percent for Christians and other religious minorities with a Dalit or similar "underprivileged" background.

Friday's marchers also demanded that authorities overturn  the "Constitutional Order 1950", which initially limited quota only to Hindus. That order was amended twice later to include Sikhs and Buddhists, but continued to exclude Muslims and Christians.

Protesters said a memorandum was send to Tamil Nadu's chief minister on March 5 at the end of the Kanykumari to Chennai march, which started February 10.

NO REACTION

There was no reaction Friday, March 5, from the local government, but several political parties attended the protest, which continued despite police preventing demonstrators to march further, organizers confirmed.

"Let the entire Christian community awake and respond to the state repression," added priest G. Cosmon Arokiaraj, a senior official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

Dalits are believed to comprise at least 16 percent of India's billion-plus population.

Most of them are Hindus, but Christianity has been spreading within this group despite opposition from militant Hindu organizations, according to church observers. (With editing  by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos).

 

7 thoughts on “India Police Detain Bishops In Dalit March”

  1. surrender to god is the way being said by lord krishna in gita and by jesus christ.
    what is a necessary to make one person to dislike is own religion and to convert.
    in hindu history you can see kabir dasar a muslim having faith in god rama his name is not changed after he attaining god.

    A religion will not grow by mass but live only if the religion gives peace in inner mind.

    please donot exploit poor by giving money for conversion. Jesus wish is to serve people not to make people to become fool mere by changing their way of prayer.

  2. Dear Vishal,

    Your last sentence is only partly true. Jesus was born out of a virgin and indeed died as a virgin but He also rose up from the death, showing He was truly Jesus Christ, according to the Bible. Otherwise, if He only died, Apostle Paul writes that those who believe in Him, would be a group that people can feel pity for. He writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19-23 (New International Version): “19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

    20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”

    Christians want to share that Good News with anyone, including Hindus. Offering money for conversions is totally against the Bible and doesn’t work. True Christianity is all about having a personal relationship with Christ and not about following rules or a religion. Christ freed us from that, according to the Bible.

    Vishal, I haven’t heard about Spiderman and Batman getting converts, and am not aware that these cartoon characters can offer eternal life. And if you can give names of religious leaders and groups that harass children BosNewsLife will ofcourse investigate that.

    Yes fishermen and shepards play an important role as they were among the first to receive and spread the Gospel of Christ. It also has to do with Christ Himself.

    John 10:11 quotes Jesus as saying (New International Version): “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

    Abraham, based on the above Bible sentences, I don’t think that at this moment Jesus Christ is in the punishing business. When He was hanging at the cross, after being abused and beaten, Luke 23:34 (New International Version) reports that “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

    I am sure that He would like to welcome Vishal in His Kingdom, but it’s up to Vishal to make that decision, as forced conversions are impossible. John 3:16 (New International Version) says: 16″For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

    That includes Vishal.

    Best regards,

    Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife

  3. Vishal, within the next 3 months – you’ll surely face the penalty for speaking unnecessary things about Jesus. Then, you’ll know that God shouldn’t be made fun off. Don’t talk ill about any one whom you don’t know well.

    I know Lord Jesus very well and He is gentle and kind but his angels would punish you sooon – if you don’t ask sorry or forgiveness.

  4. well i think u christian perverts just need converts so that u can harras their little children u pedophiles

    u convert dalits from hinduism by givingthem mooney and telling them u will enhance their status

    but all u do is make them dalit christians and RESERVAtion seekers..

    ur religion is all abot sheperds and fisherman… sipderman and bat man gets converts this way

    jesus born out of a virgin and died a virgin

  5. Dear Bala,

    A militant Hindu organization is generally having a combative character or being aggressive, especially in the service of a cause, for instance against Christianity or Christian missionaries. I think other, non-Hindu, militant organizations are also aggressive, but that was not the topic of this article. I have no idea why it would be “blasphemous” to report this. We do not say that all Hindus or Hindu groups are aggressive. We speak about militant, or hard-line groups.

    Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife News Center

  6. If the federal government of India won’t take stern actions to revert the old system of
    reservation granted exclusively to the Hindu’s, that is an unrighteousness act to the core
    value of a democratic country. Discriminating people based on religion is the worst
    kind of discrimination, especially the downtrodden Dalit community of India. Even though
    it may take time, one day justice will be established in India. The cat and mouse game
    has to stop and take immediate action because the whole world is watching this
    age old discrimination of Dalits in the name of religion.

  7. Mr.Stefan J.Bos

    what is militant hindu organization?? Can you explain?? India Is a Hindu country.Your article is thrusting your religion appears Blasphemous.

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