Canterbury Archbishop for special status to Dalit Christians


New Delhi: The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams Friday said he had raised the issue of granting Scheduled Castes (SC) status to the Dalit Christians of India during his meeting with the Indian leaders.

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“There are concerns. Many of them (Christians) are Dalits or adivasis,” said Williams, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vice President Hamid Ansari here Friday.

“They (the Dalit Christians) do not have Scheduled Caste-status. I have raised the issue with the leaders,” Williams told reporters, when asked whether he was satisfied by the grass-roots level life of Christians in India.

Williams, who is on a two-week visit to India, was delivering a lecture on “Pluralism and the Dialogue of Religions” at the British Council here.

The Archbishop said he also discussed the issues faced by the Christians in Orissa, where the Christians were attacked by a mob.

The Archbishop, who held a meeting with a group of people from Orissa at Kolkata, cited the local government’s failure in enforcing law and order as the reasons for spread of anti-Christian riots in 2008.

“The problem does not lie with the national government,” he said.

Orissa’s Kandhamal, about 200 km from Bhubaneswar, witnessed widespread violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23, 2008.

At least 38 people were killed and more than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by mob that held Christians responsible for Saraswati’s killing, although the police blamed the Maoists.