Why does Dalits need to suffer even at 21st century?
Topic started by email@example.com (@ 188.8.131.52) on Mon Oct 28 01:45:01 .
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.
Families of five Dalits, killed on October 15 in Dulina village of Jhajjar district, have embraced Buddhism as a mark of protest against Hinduism at a rally organised by the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations here.
Addressing the rally, Udit Raj, chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST organisations said the families of the five victims decided to convert into Buddhism to renounce the system and its cruel heirarchy.
He said the hardline stance of VHP Vice President Acharya Giriraj Kishore and his statements were forcing Dalits to renounce Hinduism.
''The VHP, Bajrang Dal and RSS and their so-called leaders are forcing the Dalits across the country to convert into different religions,'' Udit Raj said.
The guilty had not been brought to justice by the government which showed that it was anti-Dalit, he charged.
''It was only after our intervention that the State government increased the compensation amount and announced a package of Rs 5,00,000 each to the families of those killed,'' he said.
Dalits had been supressed by the upper caste Hindus since the Vedic times and today they were left with no other option to abandon Hinduism in search of a dignified life, he alleged.
Lambasting the critics of conversion, he said, ''It is wrong to accuse the Muslims and the Christians of conversion. The age-old traditions of Hinduism is forcing the downtrodden masses to renounce their religion.''
Terming conversion as a healthy process, Udit Raj said, ''Converting from one's existing religion to another leads to a change of thought.''
- Old responses
- From: manidan (@ 184.108.40.206)
on: Tue Nov 5 16:08:02
Religious freedom in US.
- From: manidan (@ 220.127.116.11)
on: Tue Nov 5 16:09:28
International Religious Freedom Report 2002
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
The Constitution provides for religious freedom, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, at times the Government limited this right.
There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report. The Government has arrested and sanctioned some Islamic imams. The Government has banned the Islamic religious group Faid al-Djaria and arrested and detained some of its members.
Although the different religious communities generally coexisted without problems, there were reports of occasional tension between Christians and Muslims due to the proselytizing by evangelical Christians.
The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.
Section I. Religious Demography
The country has a total area of 495,755 square miles, and its population is 7,612,950. Of the total population, 54 percent are Muslim, approximately one-third are Christian, and the remainder practice traditional indigenous religions or no religion at all. Most northerners practice Islam and most southerners practice Christianity or a traditional indigenous religion; however, population patterns are becoming more complex, especially in urban areas. Many citizens, despite stated religious affiliation, do not practice their religion regularly.
The vast majority of Muslims are adherents of a moderate branch of mystical Islam (Sufism) known locally as Tidjani, which originated in 1727 under Sheik Ahmat Tidjani in what is now Morocco and Algeria. Tidjani Islam, as practiced in the country, incorporates some local African religious elements. A small minority of the country's Muslims (5 to 10 percent) are considered fundamentalist.
Roman Catholics make up the largest Christian denomination in the country; most Protestants are affiliated with various evangelical Christian groups.
Adherents of two other religions, the Baha'i Faith and Jehovah's Witnesses, also are present in the country. Both faiths were introduced after independence in 1960 and therefore are considered to be "new" religions. Because of their relatively recent origin and their affiliation with foreign practitioners, both are perceived as foreign.
A representative of the religious community sits on the Revenue Management College, the body that oversees the allocation of oil revenues. The seat will rotate among Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant leaders.
There are foreign missionaries representing both Christian and Islamic groups. Itinerant Muslim imams also visit, primarily from Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
Section II. Status of Religious Freedom
The Constitution provides for religious freedom, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, at times the Government limited this right. The Constitution also provides that the country shall be a secular state; however, despite the secular nature of the State, a large proportion of senior government officials are Muslims, and some policies favor Islam in practice. For example, the Government sponsors annual Hajj trips to Mecca for certain government officials.
The Government requires religious groups, including both foreign missionary groups and domestic religious groups, to register with the Ministry of the Interior's Department for Religious Affairs. Registration confers official recognition but does not confer any tax preferences or other benefits. There are no specific legal penalties for failure to register, and there were no reports that any group had failed to apply for registration or that the registration process is unduly burdensome.
In 2000 the Supreme Court rejected a request from one branch of a Christian evangelical church to deny government recognition to its independent sister branch. In 1998 the Eglise Evangelique des Freres (EEF) split into moderate and fundamentalist groups. The moderate branch of the EEF retained the legal registration for the Church, but in 1999 the Ministry of Interior awarded recognition to the fundamentalist branch under a new name Eglise des Freres Independentes au Tchad (EFIT). Since 1999 the EEF branch has sought to bar the EFIT church legally from practice, and ultimately the case went before the Supreme Court, which upheld the rights of the EFIT to continue its religious work and its right to function.
Foreign missionaries do not face restrictions but must register and receive authorization from the Ministry of Interior. There were no reports that authorization was withheld from any group. Catholic and Protestant missionaries proselytize in the country.
Restrictions on Religious Freedom
In September 2001, the Minister of Interior formally banned the Islamic religious group Faid al-Djaria (also spelled Faydal Djaria), a Sufi group that adheres to a mystical form of Islam. The group arrived in the country from Nigeria and Senegal and incorporates singing and dancing into its religious ceremonies and activities. Male and female members of the group freely interact with one another during religious gatherings. The group is found from the Kanem region around Lake Chad into neighboring Chari Baguirmi. Acting at the request of the Director of Religious and Traditional Affairs, the Superior Council for Islamic Affairs, and certain ulama (Muslim religious authorities) who objected to Faid al-Djaria's religious customs that they deemed un-Islamic, particularly that both men and women sang and danced with each other, the Interior Ministry declared that the group lacked the proper authorization to practice. According to a Faid al-Djaria member, part of the Council's objection derives from a personal conflict with Faid al-Djaria's leaders. The October 2001 ban was the latest in a series of government actions taken against the group. The Minister of Interior previously had banned the group in 1998; however, from the beginning of 2000, the group increasingly became active, resulting in a number of arrests in the Kanem. The 2001 ban was implemented on technical grounds, and the Government did not recognize the group's registration. According to one Faid al-Djaria member, the group plans ignore to the ban and continue to worship as they have in the past.
According to a Protestant pastor in N'Djamena, while differing faiths or denominations are treated equally by the Government, Islamic congregations appear to have an easier time obtaining official permission for their activities. Non-Islamic religious leaders also claim that Islamic officials and organizations receive greater tax exemptions and unofficial financial support from the Government. State lands reportedly were accorded to Islamic leaders for the purpose of building mosques, while other religious denominations must purchase land at market rates to build churches. However, in 2001 at least one Christian congregation was able to reclaim a former building that was being used by a Muslim congregation, because the Government found that the Christian church had a stronger legal claim to the building.
Abuses of Religious Freedom
There is an undetermined number of followers of Faid al-Djaria, the banned Islamic group, who were prisoners in Kanem. In 2000 the Sultan of Kanem arrested a number of adherents of the group Faid al-Djaria. In addition the Chadian Superior Council of Islamic Affairs, which believes that the group does not conform to Islamic tenets, requested that the Ministry of Interior arrest the group's spiritual leader, Ahmat Abdallah. In September 2001, the Council successfully petitioned the Interior Ministry to ban the group.
The Government has imprisoned and sanctioned fundamentalist Islamic imams believed to be promoting conflict among Muslims. Sheikh Faki Suzuki, a fundamentalist imam in N'Djamena, was restricted from preaching Islam for 6 months, from October 1998 to March 1999, and the authorities also placed him under house arrest on the grounds that he was inciting religious violence. However, Suzuki no longer is under house arrest, he is not restricted from preaching Islam, and there were no further reports of conflicts between Suzuki and the Islamic Council.
In 1999 the Government arbitrarily arrested and detained in prison for 1 year imam Sheikh Mahamat Marouf, the fundamentalist Islamic leader of the northeastern town of Abeche, and refused to allow his followers to meet and pray openly in their mosque. Since his release, Sheikh Marouf may pray but is not permitted to lead prayers. His followers were allowed to pray in their mosques, but were forbidden from debating religious beliefs in any way that might be considered proselytizing; however, the Tidjani followers were allowed to proselytize.
Forced Religious Conversion
There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.
Section III. Societal Attitudes
Although the different religious communities generally coexisted without problems, there were reports of occasional tension between Christians and Muslims due to the proselytizing by evangelical Christians. In addition tensions and conflicts between government supporters from the politically dominant northern region and rebels from the politically subordinate southern region occasionally had religious overtones.
Former Islamic adherents who have converted were shunned by their families and sometimes were beaten; however, there were no reported incidents of beatings during the period covered by this report.
Most interfaith dialog happens on an individual level and not through the intervention of the Government.
Section IV. U.S. Government Policy
The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights. During the period covered by this report, Embassy officials increased their outreach efforts, particularly among Muslim leaders.
Released on October 7, 2002
- From: manidan (@ 18.104.22.168)
on: Thu Nov 7 11:18:43
In Rajasthan one Dalit woman is raped every 60 hours (May, 2000) (link
- From: practical person (@ dial47-40.brunet.bn)
on: Mon Nov 18 00:58:20
Even though the Tamil Nadu government's anti-conversion bill awaits clearance from Governor P S Ramamohan Rao, 51 dalit families in the southern Madurai district of Tamil Nadu have threatened to convert to Islam. The dalits are upset at the continued denial of land allotted to them in 1989.
The state government's anti-conversion ordinance evoked strong responses from various quarters. While the Bharatiya Janata Party and its friends welcomed it wholeheartedly, other parties and religious minorities expressed strong reservations about it.
R Thirumalvalavan, the man who heads the Dalit Panthers of India, was among those who condemned the ordinance, labelling it anti-dalit. He spoke to Shobha Warrier in Chennai. Excerpts:
You described the anti-conversion ordinance as anti-dalit. Why?
Not only in Tamil Nadu, but all over India, dalits are subjected to caste-based atrocities and discrimination. Till now no government has come forward with any law or ordinance to put an end to such atrocities. Let me ask, why?
In some places in Tamil Nadu, dalits were not even allowed to file nomination papers for the panchayat elections. Those who tried to defy the orders of the upper castes and filed nominations were cruelly murdered. In another place, dalits were forced to eat human excreta. Some upper-caste men urinated into the mouths of dalits in some places.
When these kinds of atrocities are committed against dalits, the Tamil Nadu government did not feel the need to have an ordinance to punish the guilty Hindus. Unable to bear such atrocities, many dalits decided to move away from Hinduism. Under the new anti-conversion ordinance, they would be punished. They would be punished under the term 'forcible conversion'. How can you justify such an ordinance? That's why I say this is anti-dalit and anti-Constitution.
Ours is a secular country. Our Constitution should not protect any particular religion. This ordinance is to safeguard the Hindu religion. If the ordinance is passed, dalits lose an opportunity to escape from the atrocities that they are subjected to in Hinduism.
Maybe the family that converts to Christianity does not get any benefits, but I am sure future generations will definitely reap the benefits and have social security. They will not be subjected to caste atrocities.
You also said in one of your statements that your party does not believe in conversion...
We actually do not believe in religion at all. We do not have any faith in any religion. So, according to me, there is no need to convert from one religion to another.
But a majority of people, and that includes dalits, believe in religion, in God.
Yes, I agree with you. That's why I am talking for them. We are not working for ourselves. We work for that majority of humanity who have faith in religion and God. I do not want to deny them their rights.
So you personally do not believe in any religion?
I don't have any religion. So I need not convert myself. But most dalits have faith in God and religion, and if they feel like converting to another religion, it is their right to do so. If they want to escape from the atrocities committed on them by Hinduism, they have every right to do so. Nobody can interfere in that.
So the inequality prevalent in Hinduism is responsible for all the conversions that you see among dalits today?
Exactly! In Hinduism, dalits are not treated like human beings at all. It has an inhuman approach to dalits.
The chief minister says the ordinance is only against forcible conversions...
How do you identify what's forcible?
Do you fear about the law being misused?
How was POTA [the Prevention of Terrorism Act] used? There is no doubt about the fact that it will be misused. In a village called Koothirambakkam in Kancheepuram district, dalits were ill-treated for several years by Hindu upper-caste men. Neither the government nor the state machinery did anything to help them. But when they decided to convert to Islam, the government decided to put a stop to that.
At one of your press conferences you said there is an ulterior motive behind the ordinance being brought in such haste. Are mass conversions that are taking place at various places the reason?
Politically, I feel Jayalalithaa wants to please the BJP government. She wants to show the BJP that hers is a rule of Hinduism, that the AIADMK is nothing but a Hindu government. See the people who welcomed the ordinance and congratulated her: the shankaracharya [of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham], Hindu Munnani leader Rama Gopalan and L Ganesan of the BJP.
I would say this ordinance is against dalits and not against the [religious] minorities. Christians and Muslims are only insulted by the ordinance, but the affected will be the dalits. This will affect the good work that is being done by Christian and Muslim missionaries in remote areas for the dalits. Why are they doing service in such areas? For conversion. When they find that conversion is difficult, their work also will slow down. So, who will be affected? The dalits. They will be denied education, medicine, and other such facilities.
That is what the government says, that the missionaries lure poor people with money.
It is not happening in India alone. The missionaries go to all parts of the world and do service, and in the process, convert people. They have lots of money, and that is why they are doing this.
Now, let me ask. Why did Dr Ambedkar convert to Buddhism? To escape the caste atrocities that were prevalent in Hinduism. So there is a historical reason for conversion. Wherever there is religion, there will be conversion. This is not the first time in the history of religion that conversion is taking place. There were conversions among Saivaities and Vaishnavites. So this is nothing new.
My question is, why do you want to deny the dalits a better life?
But converted dalits are also not treated equally in Christianity.
That is not a religious problem. It's a social or economic problem. For the emancipation of dalits, conversion is not the solution. Conversion is only a way of escapism from the worst elements of Hinduism. Dalits are the outcast elements of Hinduism. What is needed is social and economic independence.
Photograph: Sreeram Selvaraj
Image: Rahil Shaikh
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