The Diocese of Jalandhar on Thursday criticised the Central government for inordinate delay of three years in submitting reply in Supreme Court over grant of scheduled caste status to Dalit Christians.
Franco Mulakkal, newly appointed Bishop, Diocese of Jalandhar, addressing a press conference here alleged that though the Justice Rangnath Commission had already submitted its report on this issue in their favour to the government, but the latter had failed to submit reply in the court. A public interest litigation seeking SC status is pending in the apex court.
He said that the commission had recommended delinking of SC status from religion and abrogation of the 1950 Scheduled Caste Order which "still excludes Muslims, Christians, Jains and Parsis from the SC net." The order originally restricted the SC status to Hindus only but was later opened it to buddhists and sikhs.
Mulakkal said that he would now take up the issue with the Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal so that the state government should raise the demand for SC status to Dalit Christians with the Prime Minister.
"Over 16 lakh dalit christians will benefit in Punjab alone," he quipped, adding that Christians should not be discriminated against on the basis of religion. "The Centre should have granted such a status instead of continuing with the litigation," he said.
"We will participate in the national level protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on August 10. The discrimination should end," he said.
Mulakkal, whose coronation as the Bishop would take place here on August 4, said that a special campaign against drugs use would be launched in 86 schools being run by the Diocese of Jalandhar very soon. "Over 2 lakh students are enrolled in these schools. We will train the volunteers about anti-drug campaign before being deputed to create awareness about adverse impact of drugs on the youth," he said.
Indifference towards Christians
He said that the Tarn Taran education department officials had refused to accept applications of Christian students for scholarship meant for minorities. "Acting on verbal instructions, the school authorities had stopped preparing applications for Christian students.
In Jalandhar too, the applications were submitted only after a lot of persuasion. The state government should pass orders to education department officials not to harass the Christians," Mullakal said.