Dalit Christians allege neglect, demand equal rights in churches
Resent ill-treatment by a section of dominant Christians
Discrimination against Dalit Christians by church authorities rocked the Tamil Nadu State Minorities Commission meeting, presided over its Chairman M. Prakash, at the Collectorate here on Tuesday.
Representatives of various Dalit Christian organisations levelled series charges against church authorities. They said that 70 per cent of Christians in the district were Dalit Christians. But the churches were dominated by a section of Christians, whose population was just two per cent.
Even basic rights were denied to Dalit Christians and they were ill-treated and totally ignored. The government should intervene and protect the basic rights of Dalit Christians, they demanded.
Now, Dalits Christians were treated as minority by the dominant section of Christians, they alleged.
Reacting to their complaints, Bishop M. Prakash admitted that there was discrimination against Dalit Christians in churches across the State.
But neither the Commission nor the government could interfere in it as it was like a fight among members of a family. They should sort out these issues among themselves.
The government could advise both sides to find an amicable solution, he added.
Then, Dalit Christians questioned how long the suppressed class could negotiate without any solution.
Christopher, representative of a Dalit Christian organisation, said that schools run by Christian Missions did not admit Dalit Christian students and refused to follow 17 per cent reservation for Dalits prescribed by the government in minority schools. The Commission should inspect minority schools. Recognition of erring schools should be cancelled and funds from the government should be stopped, he demanded.
Reacting to Muslims’ demand for construction of a memorial for Tipu Sultan, the Chairman said that funds had been sanctioned and the site was finalised. Construction work would commence in a week or 10 days.
Prayer centre sealed
A group of Christians from Reddiyarchatram complained that a worshipping centre was sealed by revenue officials and permission denied to conduct prayer there. Revenue officials assured the Chairman to open the centre for prayer quickly.
Commission members Sardar Manjit Singh Nayar, Justin Selvaraj, A.M. James and K. Kalamani and Collector T.N. Hariharan were present.