By Lilu Paul
Thiruvalla: The National Dalit Christian Watch (NDCW) on January 9 has set up its Kerala chapter in Thiruvalla, Kerala.
NDCW is a collective movement of activists, earnestly engrossed in the act of deep concern for the plight and woes suffered by Dalit Christians across India.
Bishop Dr. Selvadas Pramoth from Bible Faith Mission, India chaired the gathering and Advocate Prakash P Thomas, General Secretary Kerala Council of Churches (KCC) delivered the inaugural address.
He explained the major programs, services and activities unleashed by KCC, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, he endorsed the works of NDCW by signifying the two purposes that KCC is giving importance to these days.
One is to preserve the religious minority rights and the latter is about the exhaustive upholding of Dalit Christian rights across Kerala, particularly in the field of education.
Thomas also urged the state government to live up to the manifesto released by the Left Democratic Front in 2016 consisting of three stipulations on the conservation of Dalit Christian rights which they partly failed to comply with.
In his presidential address, Bishop Pramoth condemned the incessant brutalities and encroachments over Dalit Christian in the past years.
He ardently welcomed the germination of NDCW in Kerala. According to him, NDCW – Kerala chapter “would be imperative to bring out the sociological as well as developmental exclusions, especially economic improvisation fatally awful to Dalits.”
Tomy Mathew, Manager Concord publications, T M Sathyan, Chairperson KCC Dalit Commission facilitated the gathering.
Thereafter, Shibi Peter, national coordinator of NDCW explained the need for NDCW though ample Dalit Christian collectives are active in the country.
“NDCW is not intended to be a mass organization, rather it avidly watches the intricacies confronting by Dalit Christians across the nation. Over the years, Dalit Christians have been vehemently enduring contrived atrocities overtly and covertly.”
When it comes up to the legal courts or law and order institutions, the authorities overlook the cases on the pretext of lack of evidence. The cases completely turn into debacles as unsubstantiated. This is pernicious and arduous and needs stringent operationalization, Peter explained.
Hence, NDCW documents incidents in which Dalits are victimized and killed. “We gather information with solid technical, verbal, and facts,” he said.
In the afternoon session, Sister Robancy A Helen, deputy editor of “Dalit Christian Digest”, a news portal, spoke on the theme “Dalits and Media”.
She explained the expeditious functioning of the news platform and urged participants to encourage others to write for it.
“Not only bemoaning stories of Dalits but also success stories need to be included in the web portal,” she said.
Subsequently, a discussion was held. Jestin T Varghese (Research Scholar, Mahatma Gandhi University Kottayam) sought the clarification of the way NDCW defines discrimination in the present context.
Reverend Thomas Baby, Stanley Johnson, Babu Thoomban, Dr.Jentle T Varghese, Suma Philip, Priyamol K C and Reena Samuel took part in the deliberations.
As many as 30 people attended the program in keeping with health protocols.
(Lilu Paul is the Chief Editor of Kerala Council of Churches Youth Review).