Posts Tagged 'dalit christians'

No Caste system in Christians? You should be kidding.

No Caste system in Christians? You should be kidding.

Tamil Nadu Dalit youth alleges he was forced to eat human excreta
http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_tamil-nadu-dalit-youth-alleges-he-was-forced-to-eat-human-excreta_1334686

Dindigul: In a shocking case of caste discrimination, a dalit has alleged that he was forced to eat human faeces by a group of ‘high caste Christians’ for walking with chappals on their street in the district.

The dalit youth, in his complaint to Batalagundu police inspector, said, “A group of high-caste Christians forced human faeces into my mouth after beating me for walking with chappals on their street.”

Sadayandi, who is from Indhira Nagar in Meikovilpatti in Dindigul district, claimed the incident occurred on January 7, when a group of more than 10 ‘caste Christians’ stopped him, and asked if he was not aware of the “order” that dalits should not walk with chappals on their street. Then they asked him to remove his chappals and slapped him with it, he said. “One of them suggested that I should be fed human excreta. Immediately, one person brought the excreta on a stick, and thrust it into my mouth,” he alleged, adding the excreta was applied all over his face.

“In fact, I wanted to commit suicide, unable to bear the shame. But my relatives prevented me from doing so,” he said. Police said the youth has named Arockiasamy, David, Selvendran, Kennery, Kannadasan, Peter and Anbu in his complaint. Some high-caste Christians said elder dalits did not wear chappals when they walked on their streets, but youths were “breaching the rule.” Sadayandi said he was treated at Batlagundu Hospital. The youth alleged that police did not take any action, and so he approached an NGO. When questioned by a fact-finding team of the NGO, Arockiswamy said Sadayandi, who was then drunk, blocked their way and dared them to ram their vehicle into him. Arockiasamy and others had allegedly slapped him and asked him to go home. Police inspector Muneeswaran said it was Sadayandi who had created the problem. They were trying to bring about a rapprochement between the dalits and the Christians, he said.

Bigotry alive for Christian Dalits

Bigotry alive for Christian Dalits
By Sunil Raman
BBC News, Eraiyur

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8090009.stm
Centuries ago, as their forefathers faced social and economic deprivation, many low-caste Hindus embraced Christianity.
But in one corner of southern India, their hopes for equality remain unfulfilled hundreds of years on. Called “pariahs”, hundreds of Dalit Christians continue to face discrimination – not from Hindus but fellow Christians.
More than 200km (124 miles) from Chennai, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, is the village of Eraiyur.
Home to about 3,000 Dalit Christians, mostly farm labourers and migrant workers, the area witnessed violence last year when Dalits demanded equal treatment.
The village is dominated by Vanniyar Christians numbering 15,000, who own most of the land and businesses.
They imposed restrictions on Dalits even though they had also converted to Christianity.
Restricted life
A 17th Century church building, Lady of the Rosary Parish, stands tall above the Eraiyur settlement. The village came up around the parish church, with Vanniyar houses closest to it. The Dalits were forced to build their small huts on the fringe of the village.
It did not take long for the divisions within the Hindu social system to be reflected among the new Christians.
The dominant Vanniyars created rules which restricted the movement of the Dalits.
When they visited the parish church they were not allowed to walk on the main street leading to the building. Instead they had to use a side street that led to the church gate.
When Dalits died they were not allowed to be buried in the cemetery. Their burial ground is beyond the village and can only be accessed through a broken path.
In addition, the funeral cart parked inside the church building can be used only by Vanniyars.
“We were told not to touch any upper caste person, not to get too close to them, not to talk to them,” says Mrs Peraiyamaka, 60, a farm labourer who has been visiting the parish church since childhood.
“It is no different now.”
Mr Thomas, a 60-year-old labourer says there is also a fear of violence as young Dalits refuse to be submitted to such humiliation.
He says this fear prompted the Dalits to build an alternative church.
A single-room, white-washed brick structure with an iron grill for the entrance is set in a small open ground.
Called Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Dalit church has a coloured icon of Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus in her arms. She is flanked by plastic flowers and incense sticks burn on the sides.
The Dalits’ demands of recognition for their church were rejected by local Catholic priests on the ground that a village can have only one parish church.
Mr Mathew is a Dalit activist who graduated from Madras University.
Having faced prejudice as a schoolboy, he has now decided to fight for the rights of Dalits.
His efforts to seek justice have created tension in his village, forcing him to move to elsewhere.
He is angry that although the constitution has banned “untouchability” it continues to be practised in different ways.
“My family may get some minimum help or guidance from Christianity. That’s all. There is no big change after we came to Christianity,” says Mr Mathew.
Vanniyars disgruntled
As we walked out of the Dalit quarters towards the well laid-out area where Vanniyar Christians live under the shadow of the whitewashed parish church, we were greeted by a few angry women.
They did not want us to take pictures and asked us to leave.
A few angry residents of Vanniyar quarters gathered around us. They agreed to answer our questions. Emily, 25, was eager to give their version of the story.
“We have allowed them to use the road. They are creating trouble,” she says.
We asked her how in a free country one group could dictate to others on the use of a public road.
“I don’t know. It’s been like this… but we have now allowed them,” Emily replied.
Similar responses came from other Vanniyars we spoke to.
Mr Arukadas, a retired government teacher lives next to the parish church and he shared his unhappiness with the Dalit Christians.
Asked about using a common funeral van and a graveyard where all Christians irrespective of their past Hindu caste identity can be buried, he retorted: “It will take a long time for a common graveyard.”

Hindu nationalists oppose quota for tribal Christians

Hindu nationalists oppose quota for tribal Christians
Thursday, 29th January 2009. 12:39pm

http://www.religiousintelligence.co.uk/news/?NewsID=3742

By: Vishal Arora.

New Delhi: Hindu nationalists in India have launched a campaign to demand removal of affirmative action benefits for those tribal (aborigine) people who have converted to Christianity.
As part of its ‘intellectual’ campaign to rescue tribal ‘purity’ (of culture) from the influence of the Church, the Sangh Parivar (a family of organisations under the leadership of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, India’s most influential Hindu nationalist group) yesterday re-released a book to demand removal of tribal Christians from the Scheduled Tribes category in the Indian Constitution, reported The Hindustan Times.

Communities listed as Scheduled Tribes in the Constitution can avail from the 7.5 per cent seats reserved in government and public sector jobs and educational institutions for them. The tribal communities in India – whose members are originally not Hindus but belong to ethnic faiths – form around nine per cent of India’s population. According to estimates, around 20 per cent of India’s 24-million Christian community is from tribal backgrounds.

A tribal leader from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Karia Munda, re-released the book, ‘Bees Varsh Ki Kaali Raat’ (A Twenty-Year Black Night) that was originally launched in the late 1960s by Kartik Oraon, a politician from the BJP’s archrival party, the Congress. The book argues that “Christian converts walked away with quota benefits meant for tribals in the first 20 years of Independence (in 1947), despite having ‘abandoned’ tribal practices.”

“We are expecting wide political support on our demand, including from the Congress (party). This is a genuine demand of all tribals,” the daily quoted Harsh Chauhan, convenor of Janajati Suraksha Manch (Forum for Protection of Tribals), believed to be a Sangh Parivar outfit, as saying.

“The Manch says Kartik Oraon handed a memorandum signed by 235 Lok Sabha (House of the People) MPs (members of Parliament) to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asking for converts to Christianity and Islam to be removed from the benefits of ST (Scheduled Tribes) quota. The Sangh Parivar is keen to reinstate the demand all over again,” said the daily.

While a tribal person retains the right to the government’s affirmative action after converting to Christianity or Islam, when a Dalit (formerly known as ‘untouchables’) person coverts out of Hinduism to these religions, she or he loses all benefits. Hindu nationalists are also opposing Christians’ demand to allow job reservations for ‘Dalit Christians’ – the matter is pending before the Supreme Court of India.