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Top Catholic group wants quota for Dalit Christians, foreign fund licenses revived

By Our Representative

Reiterating its long-pending demand to give "scheduled rights for Dalit Christians”, the All-India Catholic Union (AICU) has regretted that while converts to Sikhism and Buddhism from the former untouchable, or Dalit communities, have been included in the scheduled caste (SC) category, Christians from the identical communities have been “kept out.”
Asserting that this has deprived “a large number of people of their political rights, and their children of the opportunities of reservations in professional institutions”, speaking at a webinar organized by the Syro Malabar Rite of the Catholic Church, AICU national president Lancy D Cunha said, the organization had protested the promulgation of the Presidential Order 1950, which later became Article 34i Part 3.
Listing 10 AICU demands, Cunha said, communal polarization in several states, including Jharkhand and Odisha, has led to tribal Christians’ alienation from their homes, lands and resources because of mining and other projects in several states must end, adding, even 12 years after the Kandhamal violence in Odisha justice has evaded to the victims. 
The violence in 2008 saw over 60,000 people displaced, over 6,000 houses burnt, 40 villages ethnically cleansed of the minority population and close to 400 churches and institutions were destroyed.
“Despite Supreme Court orders, many still suffer”, Cunha said, adding, such targeted hate inciting violence and incidents of attacks on churches and individual pastors have lately reemerged in several states, requiring the need to to make district collectors and police chiefs accountable for such acts.
Further demanding that the Government of India should “consider” applications asking it to renew Foreign Contributions Regulation (FCRA) permissions of Christian organizations canceled in the last five years, Cunha said, this is particularly important in view of the fact that in the recent Covid situation, when Christian groups fed lakhs of people across the country, including those rendered jobless, migrants, specially the women and children.
Also seeking further discussion on the National Education Policy, Cunha said, “The Church and the Christian community are the single biggest stakeholder, not just as founders of nearly 40,000 academy institutions by congregations, foundations and individual Christian groups, but also as teachers. a figure which also runs into lakhs.” According to him, “The policy does not even acknowledge our specific existence.”
Other demands include setting up of minority commissions in all Indian states, withdrawal of the decision to dissolve the two seats reserved for Anglo Indians in the Lok Sabha, increase in the number and amount of scholarships to religious minorities by raising the annual income limit of parents to Rs 4 lakh, and special economic package to fishermen, boatmen and people living coastal areas, many of whom are Christians, in view of the Covid situation.

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