The National Dalit Movement for Justice-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights on Tuesday said it opposed the Constitutional Amendment Bill introduced in Parliament to provide 10% reservation to EWS in the general category, and requested the BJP-led Centre to withdraw it.
The campaign’s general secretary, V.A. Ramesh Nathan, said that Dalits and Adivasis were generationally discriminated against based on caste and were “denied the basic rights of dignity, water, land, housing, education, meaningful employment and wage”, and it was in this context that reservations were brought into the Constitution — as affirmative action.
Article 15(4) of the Constitution empowered the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward class of citizens, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, read a statement by the organisation. It added that the reservations were aimed at bridging the gap of advancement of the SC/ST communities to be on par with other dominant caste groups in India.
“Adding the words ‘advancement of Economically Weaker Sections’ in Article 15 and ‘Backward class citizens’ in Article 16 of the Constitution, through the Constitutional Amendment Bill, will go against the spirit of social justice of the reservations as affirmative action,” it stated.
The organisation said that for over 70 years, Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims had been facing “similar forms of caste-based discrimination and oppression” in society and had been demanding SC status.
“Governments continue to betray the demand despite Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission recommendations. The Centre… wants to please the forward caste sections of the society, who are already advanced socially and educationally in society, before the general elections,” the statement said.