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Let states decide the issue of minorities; Centre brushes aside the matter

By Vinod

New Delhi, July 23: The Central government has brushed aside the matter of giving Hindus a minority status in eight out of 29 states where their number is fewer than the dominant community of that particular state.

File photo of Mukhatar Abbas Naqvi

Strangely, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in alliance in five out of eight states. The move comes after the matter was forwarded to the Central government by the Supreme Court.

Union minority works minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the ministry received some requests from different organizations and institutions of declaring Hindus the status of minority. He said that the Centre declares any community minority at the national level not at the states level.

He said that declaring any community a minority comes under the purview of the state government. Sources said that giving Hindus minority status in states will open up Pandora's Box and the demand of minority status will mushroom.

Actually the matter was started when Delhi BJP spokesperson and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay filed a petition demanding minority status to Hindus in eight states.

The SC suggested him to go to Minority Commission with this matter. As per the order passed by the SC, Upadhyay gave presentation to the minority commission.

Minority Commission chairman Gairul Hasan Rizvi said that after the presentation made by Upadhyay, a three-member sub-committee was set up by the commission. The committee is headed by George Kurian and its other members included Sulekha Kumbare and Manjit Sing Rai.

Though the committee has prepared its report but it has not officially submitted it. Rizvi said that the commission was working on the report and by the end of this year it would submit the report to the government.

Rizvi has termed decision of the Centre as absolutely appropriate by saying that unless the state governments send their proposals to the Centre, it cannot give minority status to any community.

The government is also concerned about the Lok Sabha elections so it is treading very cautiously. He said that the Karnataka government had sent a proposal to declare Lingayats a minority. Now, it is up to the Centre to give them status of minority or not.

But the lawyer and petitioner in this matter Ashwini Upadhyay said that 11-member bench of the SC in 2002 while hearing the case of minority in Punjab in TMA Pai case questioned minority status by saying that states were divided on the basis of language not on the basis of religion.

The Supreme Court ruled in its decision instead of giving minority at the national level it should be done at the states level. He said that minority commission must seek opinion of Attorney general on this issue.

Upadhyay in his petition said that population of Hindus in states like Jammu and Kashmir with 28.44 per cent, Punjab with 38 per cent, Mizoram with 2.75 per cent, Nagaland with 8.75 per cent, Meghalaya with 11.53 per cent, Arunachal Pradesh with 29.04 per cent, Manipur with 41.39 and Union Territory Lakshyadweep with 2.77 per cent are much less than ever half way.

At the level of Centre, there are six notified minorities that included Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Zoroastrians. Maharastra wants Zews to be declared minorities and it has declared them as minority in Maharashtra and similarly Karnataka wants Centre to declare Lingayats as minorities. So it does not start the fire, added sources.

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