Jains in Gujarat may get minority status by July end

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Ahmedabad, Jun 30: Jain community members living in the BJP-ruled Gujarat are set to get the minority status by end of next month, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Ramanlal Vora said here today.

Though Union ministry of minority affairs in erstwhile Congress-led UPA government had accorded the minority status to Jains through a notification in January 2014, the state government is yet to do the same.

Jains in Gujarat may get minority status by July end.
"The earlier Central government had given the minority status to Jains. Now, the state government has initiated the process to notify Jain community as minority in Gujarat. We are taking this matter very positively and recently held a meeting in this regard," the minister said.

Vora said his ministry will conduct a few more meetings soon to finalise various aspects of the move. "I believe that a positive decision in this regard will be taken by July-end," he added.

It is to be noted that local body elections are expected to be held in the state in October. The minority status, granted to them by the UPA dispensation, enabled Jains to avail benefits of various government schemes and programmes.

The community, having 50 lakh population across the country, became the sixth such group after Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis.

With this status, Jains would get a share in Central funds earmarked for welfare programmes and scholarships for the minorities. They can also manage and administer their own educational institutions.

Welcoming the move, Jain leaders have expressed happiness and claimed that the minority tag will help the community in preserving their culture.

"Jains do not need reservation. We wanted this status to preserve our culture and religion. Apart from getting scholarships meant for minorities, we can now reserve 50 per cent seats for our students in Jain institutions," said Vimal Shah, city president of 'Terapanth Professional Forum' that has been demanding this status since long. "

...Just like madrasas (Muslim seminaries), Jain education institutions will not have government control (after getting the minority status), which will enable us to expand our horizons.

Another major advantage is that our religious places will be free from any government interference, which will enable us to develop it as per our wish," he said.

PTI

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