Most Rev. Dr. A. NEETHINATHAN
Born : July-03-1955
Feast : June-29
Priestly Ordination : May-09-1987
As the Nation prepares to celebrate its 76th Independence Day, Our thoughts are compulsively drawn towards the sad situation in Manipur and the plight of the suffering people in that North Eastern state. The unprecedented Violence, cut loose in that small state, continues unabated even after three months. It is reported that as many as 160 people have been killed and more than 60,000 people have been displaced, forced to live in forests and refugee camps. Several women were physically and mentally harassed and many of them raped. The Kukis were the unfortunate ones who had to bear the brunt of the violent attacks. It is to be noted that the majority of the Kuki and Naga tribals are Christians. It is quite obvious that the Christians have been specifically targeted.Christian churches, places of worship, institutions and social service centres have been burnt down and vandalized. It is indeed a mystery why the State Government and the Centre have not done anything concrete to restore peace and harmony in the state even after three long months.
In this given situation, what does Independence Day mean to these helpless citizens? Do they really have a reason to celebrate? The same tragic question must be posed in relation to the state of Dalit Christians / Dalit Muslims who have been denied the scheduled caste status.Even after a long and painful struggle for equality and justice their demands have fallen on deaf ears.
The first president of Independent India Dr.Rajendra Prasad in a presidential order on August 10, 1950 reserved the scheduled caste status and rights only to Hindus. Inspite of two amendments to this order (1954, 1991) to include Sikhs and Buddhists, Christians and Muslims are still kept out of the purview of scheduled caste. Dalit Christians and Muslims who are denied their constitutional rights and protection can hardly think of celebrating their independence, which does not guarantee them equality and justice.
It is our humble and earnest prayer that the Lord of justice will bring about true peace, harmony and justice in the State of Manipur. We also pray that God who is always on the side of the oppressed and those suffering injustice will help the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in their struggle to obtain SC Status and to live with human diginity in India. May our Blessed Mother, assumed into heaven, intercede for these suffering brothers and sisters.
God bless you all!
Most Rev. Dr. A. Neethinathan
Bishop of Chingleput