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Indian archbishop arrested, others beaten during peaceful protest

Catholic World News - December 11, 2013

The Archbishop of New Delhi has been arrested along with other priests and religious engaged in a peaceful demonstration protesting discrimination against underprivileged Christians and Muslims, the AsiaNews service reports.

Archbishop Anil Couto had led priests and religious from the archdiocese in a protest march, calling attention to government policies that discrimination against Christian and Muslim dalits: members of the lowest “untouchable” class under the old Hindu caste system. The government of India has sought to remedy centuries of oppression by giving certain preferences to dalits in education and employment, but those policies apply only to Hindu members of the caste.

As the protest march neared the parliament building, police reportedly charged the demonstrators, using water cannons and clubs to break up the crowd.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, the president of the Indian bishops’ conference, decried “the excessive violence on our bishops, priests, and nuns,” saying that the incident was a disgrace to India. The cardinal said that the demonstrators were “arrested and detained because they fought for the rightful demands of the country's poor and marginalized."

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