August 10th, 2011 was observed as ‘black day’ to protest against the exclusion of the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims from the Scheduled Caste list.

It was on August 10, 1950 the then President of India issued the ‘Constitution (Scheduled Caste Order of 1950)’ making reservation in education and jobs available to those from low-caste that follow Hinduism.

The Presidential Order 1950 barred Dalits to be members of Scheduled Caste if they chose any religion other than Hinduism. However, subsequent amendments were made to the Order in 1956 and 1990 providing for the inclusion of Sikhs and Buddhists respectively within the Scheduled Caste category.

Christians observed Aug. 10 as a ‘black day’ to mourn and express protest against the continuing discrimination of Dalit Christians in India.

Churches and Christian organisations across the country held special functions, including holding public meetings and hoisting a black flag as a mark of protest.

There are about 20 million Dalit Christians in India.

As part of the protest, a public meeting  was organised at the CNI Bhavan in New Delhi, in which Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao, Archdiocese of Delhi, Mr. Alwan Masih, General Secretary, The Church of North India Synod, Sr. Ann Moyalan SCN, Coordinator, Justice and Peace Commission, Archdiocese of Delhi addressed the  members gathered  from various churches. The call to observe Black Day to mark the 61st Anniversary of the presidential order was made by the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (CBCI) and the national Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC).

There was a massive hunger strike and march on Parliament in Delhi from July 25–28, in which SCNs Bridget Kappalumakal, Stella Kaiprampatt, Sushuma Bodra, and Ann Moyalan participated, demanding Scheduled Caste status for Dalit Christians and Muslims.

Around 10,000 people participated, who were led by Bishops and Heads of the Churches from all over India. Observance of August 10, 2011, as a ‘black day’, is a step toward critical consciousness of our own Christian communities on this concern and to urge the Union Government to pay heed to just demand of deleting paragraph 3 of the Constitutional Schedule Castes Order of 1950.

Written by Ann Moyalan, SCN

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