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.