Dalit Christians suffer caste prejudices from Society and even “other” Christians: HC

Religion has unfortunately been used as a tool for continuing deprivation of Dalit Christians. When Mother Teresa first mentioned the topic of including Dalit SC within the ambits of SC, a hue and cry was made by the communal lobby.

Scheduled Castes should be included in the ambits of SC list, not because of their current beliefs, but because of “Affirmative action” to make up for the suppression, oppression and deprivation of their ancestors for centuries. Any takers!

Dalit Christians suffer caste prejudices: HC
8 Jan 2009

CHENNAI: Dalit Christians
are suffering caste prejudices from not only caste Hindus but also converted Christians belonging to other castes, the
Madras high court has lamented.

Justice K Chandru, passing orders in a case relating to acquisition of land for a housing project for Christian Adi Dravidars, said the social condition of Dalits who had converted to Christianity was no different from the Adi Dravidars belonging to the Hindu fold.

He also quoted a Supreme Court order highlighting the “plight of Adi Dravidar Christians,” which had said that in South India if a person converted from Hindu religion to any other religion, the original caste, as a matter of common practice, continues to exist…If a person abjures his old religion and converts to a new one, there is no loss of caste.”

The petition pertained to a housing project launched under the Harijan Welfare Scheme in Villupuram district in October 1998. The sites were issued to 37 Christian Adi Dravidar beneficiaries. The petition was filed after the land-loser’s objections were rejected by the authorities, who had notified the acquisition and even deposited the compensation sum in court. The original petitioner, M Gopal Goundar (deceased) who is represented by his son G Perumal, contended that Christian Adi Dravidars are not covered by the definition of the term Harijan.’

Justice Chandru agreeing that the Tamil Nadu Act 31 of 1978 provided for land acquisition only for Harijans, who did not include Christian Adi Dravidars, said the Supreme Court too had held the definition constitutional. He further added that a larger bench of the apex court was still seized of a case against excluding Christian Adi Dravidars from the beneficial purview of Harijans.

Though the judge set aside the acquisition under the state act, he said it would not preclude the authorities from resorting to acquisition under the Central Act 1 of 1894. After notifying the acquisition under the Central Act, the authorities could distribute the lands to the beneficiaries, he added.

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