National Council of Churches in India -Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns along with many member churches, theological institutions and various organisations proactively participated in the observance of ‘Black Day’ on 10th August 2017. The infamous Presidential Order that was signed on 10th August 1950 by the then President of India stated, “No person who professes a religion other than Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the scheduled caste.” This Order was later amended to include Sikhs (1956) and Buddhists (1990) in the Scheduled Caste fold. It is ironical that the Government is turning deaf ears even when twelve state Governments along with union territories and political parties have endorsed the proposal to delete paragraph-3 of the Presidential Order 1950 in order to ensure equality and justice for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in India.
Therefore on 10th August 2017, people protested against the continual negligence of the government to the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the country. At different places protest rallies, meetings, demonstrations, candle vigils, special prayers, submission of memorandums and other appropriate programmes were organised to express solidarity with the oppressed Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste origin.
Observance of Black Day at Bishop’s College, Kolkata
“Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians are citizens of India! ” was one of the slogans heard on A.J.C. Bose Road in front of Bishop’s College, Kolkata. Black Day was observed by the theological students and faculty of Bishop’s College, Kolkata, in keeping with its tradition and conviction of being a voice for the voiceless. Rev. Dr. Sunil Caleb (Principal of the college) briefed the community about the significance of the observance of Black Day. He categorically emphasized the church’s participation in the struggles of the Dalits. He provided a historical overview of the infamous Presidential Order of 1950 that excludes Christian and Muslim Dalits from the Scheduled Castes list.
Observance of “Black Day” at Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College, Hyderabad
In solidarity with the Muslim and Christian Dalit community, August 10, 2017 was observed as “BLACK DAY” by the Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College community. A brief sketch of initiatives taken up by the NCCI and the black day movements was shared by Dr. Machhungi Hrangthan. The MBCBC Principal Rev. Dr. I.P. Asheervadam, Rev. Dr. Prabhakar Dayam, and Rev. John Basy Paul talked about Dalit history and experiences, and the urgent need to push harder on the matter to bring justice for the oppressed. They gave a call to revoke article 341 (1), paragraph 3 of the Constitution of India, which denies Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims.”
Observance of “Black Day” at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
National Council of Churches in India – Delhi Office and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India- Office for SC/BC jointly observed Black Day on August 10, 2017 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi to express solidarity with the socially oppressed and poor Dalit groups who suffer from the discriminating policy of the government. Some 200 hundred people wore black badges, sat with placards, joined in street plays and said prayers as they protested the 67-year-old government policy that denied social welfare benefits to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims and demanded SC status for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims.
Observance of “Black Day” at CBCNEI, Guwahati, Assam
The Council of Baptist Churches North East India observed Black Day’ on 10th August 2017 by wearing black badges to raise their protest against the infamous Presidential Order of 1950 and the continual negligence by the government of the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the country. The injustices inflicted upon the Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians were very clear that the Presidential Order para 3 issued did not grant SC status to them. To the God of justice, an earnest prayer was offered for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. Intercessions were also offered for the leaders of the country that they will hear the voices of the marginalized, and will bring justice by revoking the Presidential Order of 1950.
Salvation Army observes August 10th as “Black Day” at Vijayawada
In a spirit of ecumenical togetherness, the Salvation Army along with the Catholic Church observed Black Day on August 10th at Vijayawada. A meeting with a big rally on the streets of the AP Capital was organized to express solidarity with Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. It was on August 10th, 1950, the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad, signed the Presidential Order stating that anyone belonging to “a religion different from the Hindu religion shall not be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.” Thus for the last 67 years Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims have been denied their constitutional status and rights. The case against the constitutional order 1950 has been pending for the past 13 years. Therefore, August 10th has been deemed as a “Black Day.”
Observance of Black Day at NCCI Secretariat, Nagpur
The National Council of Churches in India – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns observed the ‘Black Day’ on the 10th August 2017 protesting against the continual negligence of the government to the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the country. On this day in solidarity with the people who are oppressed, NCCI staff members gathered at the lawn wearing black badges, displaying posters. A black flag was hoisted by Rev. Caesar J. David. It was not only an emblem of mourning with disgrace but also an urgent appeal to the authority to repeal the unconstitutional law that violates and suppressed the rights of many citizens. Mr. Pradip Bansrior, the Executive Secretary Of Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns shared the significance of the protest by quoting the infamous Presidential Order that was signed on 10th August 1950. He also emphasized how concerned people should respond in times like this – to be critical not only about the unjust ways of the authority but also about the way one lives and relates to neighbours in society, and the urgency of being responsible citizens and stewards in the service of God. The observance concluded a prayer led by Mrs. Ushakiran Heroldwith who remembered the plight and affliction of the people who are oppressed, and beseeched God to intervene and bring justice in our country.
Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns
National Council of Churches in India