NAGPUR â€“ Oct. 14, 2006. Following the footsteps of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and thousands of Dalit pilgrims, the All India Christian Council (aicc) and 25 international visitors paid their respects to Ambedkar during a visit to Deekshabhoomi, the site of the original 1956 Dalit emancipation movement being celebrated today in Nagpur. Earlier this month, 12 lakh Dalits visited this historic site to honor their national hero and his efforts to bring socio-spiritual equality to the Dalit-Bahujan people.
The aicc network seeks to bring greater global awareness with regard to the constitutionally-guaranteed issues of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. The aicc`s international guests were present at the site to stand in solidarity with the Dalit-Bahujan people and other minorities in India who have been denied their fundamental rights.
At this gathering, Dr. Udit Raj, National Chairman, All India Confederation of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Organisations, led those present in a Buddhist prayer to mark this important date, while the local Minorities Committee Chairman represented the Muslim community, and Dr. John Dayal of the All India Christian Council represented the Christians.
The aicc`s international invitees, who hail from the USA, the UK, Canada and Nigeria, and include Mr. Eldon Arnold, Ms. Chenenye Obamu and Ms. Michelle Burnette, are attending these events to observe, gather information and take reports back to their home country about the message of religious freedom and the efforts of the aicc in pursuing this right for every Indian. Mr. Trent Ballard of the USA remarked, "We are pleased to be here to express our solidarity with the Dalit community. We want to tell our friends in the West the story of how India reacts and responds to the Dalits and their call for religious freedom."
Later today, over 100,000 Dalits are expected to attend the "World Freedom of Conscience and Freedom of Religion Day" being held in Nagpur, Maharashtra, throughout the afternoon at Kasturchand Park.
The All India Christian Council, founded in 1999, exists to protect and serve the Christian community, minorities, and the oppressed castes. The aicc is a coalition of over 5,000 Indian denominations, organizations, and lay leaders.