Dec. 6 Beating their drums, some 200 socially poor Dalit people marched through the streets of Indian capital New Delhi on Dec. 4 in a novel form of protest to demand that they be given social benefits denied to them because of their Christian faith.
Participants in the “the drum, dance, demonstration” played their drums near parliament to demand that the government withdraw a 1950 presidential order that said only Dalits of Hindu religion should be given social security benefits meant for Dalit people’s advancement.
“Government comes and goes, and we get only false promises. Several protest rallies and marches in the past were useless.
Now we play our drums to wake up the sleeping government,” said Father A. Arputharaj, a protest organizer from Pondicherry and Cuddalore Archdiocese in Tamil Nadu.
The Indian constitution has special provisions to assist Dalit people’s educational and social advancement with financial aid and reserved seats in jobs and educational institutions.
But Dalit Christians and Muslims are denied these rights on grounds that their religions are caste-free.
The 1950 order was twice amended to include Dalit people of Sikh and Buddhist religions for these benefits.
“But Dalit Christians and Muslims continue to suffer because of discrimination based on religion,” Father Arputharaj said. “The government refuses to hear us, so we chose a louder medium to make them hear us.”