Police in New Delhi arrested Archbishop Anil JT Couto, as well as priests and nuns from his diocese, during a peaceful march for the rights of Dalit Christians and Muslims.
to eyewitnesses, police agents beat
vested priests and nuns who are
presently being held at a police station near the parliament building.
people have also been reportedly injured. Some sources note that agents charged the crowd
using water cannons.
Gracias, president of the Bishops' Conference (CBCI) and archbishop of Mumbai,
told AsiaNews that "the excessive
violence on our bishops, priests and nuns" was a disgrace. They were "arrested
and detained because they fought for the rightful demands of the country's poor
of Delhi and other religious leaders were silently marching from Jantar Mantar,
headed to the parliament building when the police intervened using water
In addition to Delhi
Archbishop Anil Couto, those arrested include Church of North India (Anglican
Church) General Secretary Alwan Masih, Dr Roger Gaikwad from the National
Council of Churches in India, National Council of Dalit Christians President
Mary John, Delhi Minorities Commission member A C Michael, All India Christian
Council Secretary General John Dayal and Member of Parliament Anwar Ali.
Church of India is deeply saddened by the detention of our clergy, religious
and other people, who were merely asking for justice and equality for Dalit
Christians and Muslims," Archbishop Couto said.
The struggle to achieve
equal rights for Dalit Christians and Muslims has been going on since 1950,
when the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950
was adopted, granting economic, educational and social advantages
to Dalit Hindus. In 1956 and 1990, the status was extended to Buddhists and
discrimination violates the constitution, which instead treats all citizens as
equals," said the president of the Bishops' Conference. "Our concern touches the
whole of India, which cannot move forward as long as one part of society is
discriminated and deprived of something
on religious grounds. This is detrimental to the development and moral
authority of the nation."
This is the
first time since 27 November 1997 that bishops and religious leaders are
arrested for embracing the Dalit cause.