Friday, March 14, 2008

Still untouchable!

IN THEIR LONG struggle for equality, India's dalits, or "untouchables," have often exchanged their Hinduism for Christianity  believing that they will lead better lives by doing so.  At the time of conversion, they are assured that they are being inducted into a religious fold that is egalitarian and free from the twin curses of caste and untouchability. But the reality is altogether different.

In a recent incident, upper caste Catholics attacked  Dalits Christians, destroying dozens of their homes for demanding a separate parish.  Two Christians died and many more were wounded shot by police who intervened to stop the clashes.

Troubles started on 7 March when a group of Dalit Christians from the Villupuram district began a hunger strike to protest discrimination in a local parish by the Vanniyar.

Three months ago Dalits from St Jabamalais Annai Church in Earyur built another church dedicated to Saghaya Madha (Our Lady of perpetual Help) and sought to have it erected as a separate parish with its own priest.

In response some 500 upper caste Christians went on a rampage on Sunday, attacking Dalits and torching over 30 huts.

Fr G Cosmon Arokiaraj, secretary to the Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India says

“For years Dalits have been discriminated within the Church itself. They cannot sit with upper caste members in the same church; they are buried in separate cemeteries; they cannot use the same roads as upper caste people. When the mother of a Dalit priest died in the 1990s the upper caste did not allow the funeral procession to use the main road; even the bishop failed to bring about a compromise.”

If same thing had happened between  “upper-caste” Hindus and "Dalits" the entire secular media and secular parties would have whipped a Hysteria Reaching  Epic Proportion and would also have assembled a band of assorted left leaning  intellectuals to discuss the "evil called Hinduism".

Its really amazing how this news was blacked out from Mainstream media! Incidentally, yesterday, NDTV was having a field day with a news item on "Murder of Five Dalits" in Etawah due to some land dispute! Its outrageous they gave caste color to a incident which had nothing to do with caste.


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