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Christians, Muslims March to Parliament to Demand Dalit Rights
New Delhi (CBCI News): Some 3000 Christians and Muslims marched to the Parliament, August 1, seeking social equality. More than a dozen groups organized the march ahead of Parliament's monsoon session to press for reservation for Christians and Muslims of dalit origin.
Bishop in Charge of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) Office for Scheduled Castes Bishop Neethinathan inaugurated the rally at the Jantar Mantar.
There were prayers led by both Christian and Muslim leaders. The marchers walked to the Parliament, some five kilometers away, winding through New Delhi's busy roads. Many Bishops, Christians and Muslims took part in the rally demanding their rights which is unlawfully denied for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims based on religion. For more than five decades, Christian and Muslim groups have been demanding statutory benefits for their Dalit brethren. Christians and Muslims are excluded from these benefits on the ground that their religions reject casteism.
Secretary of the CBCI Office for Scheduled Castes, Father Devasagayaraj, said Christians "still have faith" that the government will include all Dalits for quota benefits.
An estimated 60 percent of India's 25 million Christians come from dalit castes. "We can't wait any longer. This injustice should end," Father Devasagayaraj asserted. The marchers accused the government of using delay tactics in this regard. The organizers said they would plan to hold nationwide marches across the country if the government failed to meet their demand.
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