Include SC christians and muslims in SC list: Ex minister R Dhanushkodi
Athithan pointed out that Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission Report in 2007 had recommended amendment to the Constitution Order, 1950, to delink SC status with religion, and make it religion neutral.
Seeking the inclusion of Scheduled Caste (SC) christians and muslims into the Scheduled Caste category, former Union minister R Dhanushkodi Athithan urged Chief Minister MK Stalin to pass a resolution requesting centre to act on the demand so as to uplift the communities from poverty. In a letter, Athithan cited examples of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Puducherry state governments passing such resolutions before. "The state governments of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh had passed resolutions seeking SC status for the Scheduled Caste Christians and Muslims during July 7, 2000, December 4, 2006, June 16, 2017 and February 6, 2019 respectively as per an RTI reply," he said.
The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 says no person who professes a religion different from the Hindu religion shall be deemed to be a member of Scheduled Castes (Dalits). Dalit Sikhs and Buddhists had reclaimed SC status through amendments in 1956 and 1990 respectively. "Even as scheduled caste members converted to Buddhism and Sikhism enjoy all the constitutional guarantees of the Scheduled Castes, it is not the same for Christianity and Islam. Dalit Christians and Muslims are denied the SC status, rights, reservations, safety and education. They are treated officially as Other Backward Class caste, which is unjust and needs to be addressed," the senior Congress leader said.
Further, Athithan pointed out that Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission Report in 2007 had recommended amendment to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, to delink SC status with religion, and make it religion neutral. "After conversion, Dalits feel ecstatic that they are not under any dominant caste. Still, they are seen with bias by caste hindus. Similar is the case with SC Christians and Muslims who are discriminated against by the dominant caste despite conversion. They live in slums and colonies and reel under poverty as their new religion does not give any monetary support. The dalits continue to remain in the same socio-economic status even after conversion", he said.
As the Tamil Nadu government under DMK Chief Minister Stalin is giving an impetus for social justice, and implementing various schemes to uphold equality, it shall also pass resolutions urging the union government to make necessary amendments to revise the constitution by including Christian and Muslim dalits into SC list, and make sure they get all the benefits and priorities entitled for SC category. This will also bolster the case in this regard pending since 2004, he added.