Minorities too should be tolerant, says their rights champion

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New Delhi, Dec 18 (UNI) Noted human rights activist Javed Anand, who was today honoured with the National Minorities Rights Award for this year, advised the communities to show religious tolerance if they wanted others to stand by them in their fight against intolerance towards them.

Minorities in this country have been vulnerable to frequent attacks, so nobody else than they should value the rights of others to be different from them, Mr Anand said.

He was speaking after accepting the honour from Vice - President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, a former chairman of the National Commission for Minorities(NCM) on the occasion of the National Minorities Day here. The award has been instituted the NCM.

Mr Anand said the occasion was to ask some uncomfortable questions from the establishment: Why there have been three pogroms- the anti-sikh riots of 1984, the Mumbai and Gujarat riots in the last 18 years and why two standards of justice were being applied in the latter two cases; why the reports of the NCMs were not tabled in Parliament and whether these commissions were doing anything concrete for minorities.

Also, he said, minorities should ask themselves whether the intolerance to the views of others was justified while they were protesting against the intolerance of others towards them.

The Vice - President, while responding to Mr Anand's views in his address as chief guest, said he agreed with Mr Anand regarding the inadequacy of formal institutions and accepted that the law themselves were not enough to deal with the issue of minorities rights.

The whole issue needed to be pursued with an activist's approach.

Individual activist and media have to play a great part in sensitising the civil society about the rights of minorities, he said.

Quoting Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru, he said while minorities have to trust the good sense of the majority, the majority community too should recognise the diversity of the country which has been accepted by the leaders of the freedom movement and architects of the Constitution as the country's strengths.

So there has to be methodologies by which this diversity could be adjusted in the fabric of the country, he added.

The Vice - President said minorities have no cause to be disappointed as a lot of progress has been made in securing their rights.

He said every fifth Indian belonged to a minority communiy, so there were no two opinions that without taking them along, the country cannot progress.

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