After the 2016 Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act received presidential assent, the state became the first in the country to adopt a law that seeks to enforce strict rules of coexistence among members of different castes.
The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) welcomed the new state law because it bans abuses by informal village councils. This is "a step in the right direction to stop the oppression of some categories of people like Dalit Christians," GCIC President Sajan K George told AsiaNews.
The law takes into account all human rights issues and bans discrimination on the basis of moral and social acceptance, as well as political orientation and gender. It even makes it an offence to impose clothing or language requirements on people.
In rural areas, tribal Christians and Dalits suffer harassment for caste and religious reasons. "Social boycotts have serious economic implications since our fellow Christians make up the majority of the poor and day labourers who are denied jobs, food rations and access to village wells," said George.
"This law will give great dignity to Dalit and tribal Christians who are often expelled from villages and forced to live a migrant life on the margins of society," he added
Sometimes even parents and relatives discriminate and drive away their children if they convert to Christianity.
For the GCIC president, "The ban on social boycott, if implemented justly in Indian society, will help make our communities and society more humane.”
(Correspondent, "Maharashtra law against social boycott is a turning point for Dalit Christians,” AsiaNews Online, 8/3/17).