By Syed Ubaidur Rahman
Chance of inclusion of Dalit Christians and Muslims in the Scheduled Castes list seems difficult with the Indian government showing no interest in the matter. Actually the government argument is that it needs an evidence to show that even converts face discrimination as they used to face before moving away from Hinduism.
Earlier, social activists had tried to convince the government of the fact that despite conversions the Dalit Muslims and Christians continued to be discriminated. However, the Supreme Court had earlier dismissed such a claim that the constitutional provision limiting the SC tag to Hindus/Sikhs was discriminatory. The Union law minister cites this SC judgment while not taking up the case. It is understood that the UPA is also in favor of the status quo. Till now it has fully backed law ministry’s view over the issue. The opinion of the National Commission for SCs is also the same. Their argument is that their cases can only be taken if convert Dalits also followed traditions and customs as before conversion and suffered the same social disabilities.
But it is too early to jump to any conclusion as the issue is before the apex court. But the Centre has asked for opinion from its key arms so that it can be clear about the issue. At the same time it also wants itself to be prepared for the judgment. Many senior politicians in the ruling party have suggested caution. A senior minister, who was part of recent discussion in the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, said: “The Constitution cannot be tinkered with in a casual manner.” The whole is issue is politically sensitive and hence no political party is willing to air its opinion in the open. They are just keeping an eye on SC’s judgment. But this is not for the first time that such a debate has been started. Earlier, also many social activists had expressed their displeasure at none inclusion of Dalit Christians and Muslims in the SCs list.