Human Rights Indian Hindu outfit targets Dalits adopting Christianity

Indian Hindu outfit targets Dalits adopting Christianity

Vishwa Hindu Parishad says benefits of affirmative action must be denied to those who become Christians

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or World Hindu Council has urged the Indian government to withdraw the benefits of its affirmative action program to Hindus who convert to Christianity.

Vijay Shankar Tiwari, the national VHP spokesman while addressing a press conference in Jaipur city in northwestern Rajasthan state on Oct. 19, alleged those converting to Christianity continue to use their Hindu names and credentials in official documents and draw benefits from the government’s reservation policy for Dalits and tribal people.

“The central government should make a plan and do a survey to ensure that those people who are from the SC [Scheduled Caste, the official name for Dalits] and ST [Scheduled Tribes] communities and adopted Christianity don’t get the reservation benefits,” he demanded.

Tiwari further accused Christian missionaries and Muslim clerics of acting as pressure groups to pass on the benefits of education and employment reservations in government institutions under India’s affirmative action program to those converted to their religions.

“Since these religious groups claim their religions do not have any caste system and that every individual is equal, they do not come under the reservation schemes,” said Tiwari.

He said even India’s founding fathers including its constitution maker Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had rejected the idea of providing reservations to converts as it would destroy the purpose of uplifting socially weak Hindu communities.

“Why the step-motherly treatment to Christians and Muslims?”
“These religious groups continue to raise the demand despite it being rejected by the apex court, too,” Tiwari added while announcing the VHP will soon undertake an awareness campaign on the issue.

Indian Christians who were previously Dalits have been seeking the SC status to ensure them a share in the15 percent reserved quota in parliament and state legislatures, government jobs, and education, at present extended only to Dalits belonging to Hindu, Sikh, or Buddhist religions

“We are fighting a legal battle in the Supreme Court to get Scheduled Caste status for Christians of Dalit origin and hence this statement from the VHP comes as no surprise,” Father Vijay Kumar Nayak, secretary of the Indian Catholic Bishops’ Office for Dalits and Lower Classes, told UCA News.

Father Nayak said no government in the past or present was ever serious about granting SC status and the present government of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party is no different.

“If the benefits of reservations are extended to Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists why the step-motherly treatment to Christians and Muslims? Our demand is to be treated equally,” the priest said.

D. Charles, general secretary of the National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) reminded that only recently the federal government had decided to appoint a commission to examine if Dalits who converted to Christianity or Islam can be accorded SC status.

Charles said the VHP statements were “clever tactics to avoid giving SC status to Christians and Muslims” while the Supreme Court is hearing a petition filed by the NCDC in January 2020 to make SC status “religion neutral.”

Some 60 percent of India’s 25 million Christians come from Dalit and tribal origin.

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