FOR DISSEMINATION AND PUBLICATION
ALL INDIA CATHOLIC UNION
- Supreme Court of India issues notice to Government on All India Catholic Union (AICU) application that Article 341 Part 3 is used in Sangh Parivar’s Ghar Wapsi campaign against Minorities
- AICU welcomes ruling upholding Right to Privacy
- Jharkhand CM being sued for targeting Christians
August 26, 2017
The following is the text of the statement issued today at a Press Conference at the Bengaluru Press Club by Mr Lancy D’ Cunha, the National President of the All India Catholic Union, and AICU official spokesman Dr John Dayal.
The All India Catholic Union [AICU] has welcomed the Supreme Court ruling upholding Privacy as a fundamental right of all citizens. The ruling will have widespread impact on all persons, and specially on religious and other minorities. The AICU is studying the full ramifications of the ruling, as also that of the recent majority judgement outlawing Instant Triple Talaq in Muslims. AICU is in solidarity with women in their struggle for equal rights.
“We also express gratitude to the Supreme Court Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud who recently issued notice to the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on a petition filed by AICU and its past president, Dr. John Dayal, challenging the validity of Article 341 para 3 of Constitution. This Article, which was once known as the President’s Order of 1950, denied Dalit Christians and Muslims reservation and other benefits,” AICU president Mr. Lancy D’ Cunha said.
AICU’s lawyer, Mr P I Jose, told the Supreme Court that this provision was being misused by Hindutva organizations like the RSS and VHP to indulge in Ghar Wapsi, that is re-conversionn of Christians and Muslims into Hinduism. The RSS and its affiliates are misusing the delay in not hearing the original 2004 public interest petition on this issue, by engaging in Ghar Wapsi etc. and therefore there is a need to hear the matter early, even though the government of India is delaying it by not filing a reply, Advocate Jose told the Court.
As per para 3 of Constitution (scheduled castes) order 1950 which the petition has challenged, “no person who professes a religion different from the Hindu, the Sikh or the Buddhist religion shall be deemed to be a member of a scheduled caste”. Bodies like the RSS and VHP are capitalizing on the delay by luring Dalit Christians to re-convert by promising them Scheduled Caste rights and other incentives. AICU, which represents the Catholic Laity in the country, is deeply concerned over ‘Ghar Wapsi’ or the re-conversion programme and ether coercive and violent actions indulged in by Hindutva right wing outfits, and had moved a fresh petition for scrapping of the clause.
It is important to mention that on the one hand the poor Christians of Dalit origin are deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of faith and worship, on the other hand large groups of politically and institutionally patronised narrow fundamentalist religious bigots openly come out with violent intimidatory programs like “Ghar Wapsi” and other like programs depriving the poor Christians of Scheduled caste origin their basic human rights of peaceful living. The existing laws seem to legitimise Ghar Wapsi, while making it prohibitive and punitive for any Dalit to exercise his or her freedom of faith and convert to Islam or Christianity. Conversions to Buddhism and Sikhism do not invite this punishment.
The AICU was among the first ones to challenge the Presidential Order when it was issued in 1950. It has now decided to take legal recourse apart from its normal advocacy and mass mobilisations to seek the protection of the rights of religious minorities.
The AICU has also, therefore, decided to take legal action against the chief minister of Jharkhand, Mr Raghubar Das, and his government who recently pushed an anti-religious conversion bill in the state legislature. The chief minister then added insult to injury by using public money to issue an outrageous newspaper advertisement which uses a garbled statement of Mahatma Gandhi made before Independence to target Christians. Our lawyers are currently in the process of finalising our petition, Dr John Dayal said.
AICU has also noted the hate speeches that have emanated from the recent session of Sangh Parivar organisations in Goa. These have further vitiated the surcharged atmosphere, and aggravated the communal polarisation in the country. Sadhvi Sarasvati’s call for death to beef eaters is the type of targeting that has led to the rash of the large number of lynching of Muslims and Dalits ins several states in India.
AICU has called on the new President of India, Mr. Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, to order exemplary action against such hate mongers. Although government has sought to appease Christians in Goa and the north east by keeping the states out of the ban on beef, the politics of the cow has targeted Muslims and other communities whose food habits and economy depended on the trade in bovines. Its ramifications have not been fully understood, and AICU fears they will irretrievably damage the economic health of the farmers and the poor.
The Catholic Union is alarmed at the serial attempts by the Central and State governments to saffronise all levels of education in the country by direct changes in academic curricula, text books and teaching. The warped interpretation of history, archaeology and social sciences will make children misfits in a modern world and will unravel the progress made in the decades since Independence.
In Karnataka, the AICU demands that the state government immediately set up a Christian Development Corporation by elevating existing the existing board, which has inadequate powers. We also demand that other states other states in the country which do not have Minority Commissions or development corporations set them up soon.
We also call upon political parties Karnataka to ensure that the Christian community is represented in their party structures, and in the candidates, that they chose for the state assembly and other elected bodies. It is a matter of concern that at present there are just two Christians in the State assembly although the population is over 10 per cent
The Union also backed the Catholic community in various parts of the country which have been fighting the desecration of Crosses, and their arbitrary demolition despite authentic documentation of their antiquity. The community in the past had often voluntary shifted holy Crosses if they felt it was in the national cause. It was in line with the Christian community giving up a church so that India’s rocket and space sciences could have their first base in Kerala.