Congress in favour of reservation for all Dalits:Shivraj Patil

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Kochi, Dec 16 (UNI) The Congress party favours granting of reservation to all Dalits, regardless of their religion, and is in the process of initiating steps to this end, union Home Minister Shivraj Patil has told Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) President Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil.

The assurance came during a nearly two-hour meeting at the Varapuzha Archbishop's house here last night, KCBC Deputy Secretary Fr. Stephen Alathura told UNI today.

On the Archbishop's suggestion that the government set up a committee along the lines of the Sachar Committee to study the status of the Christian community, the home minister said the government will consider it.

Mr Shivraj Patil, who had dinner with the KCBC president, arrived at Archbishop Acharuparambil's house around 2000 hrs.

During discussions lasting about half an hour, Archbishop Acharuparambil conveyed to the union home minister concerns of the community, particularly in regard to moves by the Kerala Government to ''encroach on minority educational rights'' and attacks on Christian institutions in North India.

According to Fr. Alathura, Mr Patil assured the Archbishop on both counts. He said the Central Government will safeguard minority rights and would give directions to the Kerala Government to protect minorities in the state. Protection would be given to Christian institutions facing attacks in the north, he added.

Regarding the Church's advocacy for reservation for Dalit Christians, the union home minister said that the ''Congress is in the process of giving reservation to all Dalits, regardless of their religious affiliation,'' Fr. Alathura said.

After the discussions, Mr Patil had dinner with the Archbishop and left around 2130 hrs.

UNI

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