Sangh Parivar demands minority status
for Hindus in 6 states
George Iype in New Delhi
Close on the heels of the attacks on Christians in Gujarat, the Sangh Parivar is pressing Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani to enact a law to grant minority status to Hindus in six states: Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
Sangh leaders recently submitted detailed proposals to Advani asking him to amend the Constitution and ban the conversion of tribals to Christianity and bring forward a legislation to grant religious minority status to Hindus in six states.
Incidentally, the National Commission for Minorities has also recommended the grant of minority status to Hindus in these six states.
The NCM has argued that though Hindus are a majority community at the national level, they are in a minority in Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, and the four north-eastern states.
"Our recommendation is to declare minorities and majority status state-wise to ensure that each community is protected and provided government opportunities," NCM Chairman Tahir Mahmood told Rediff On The NeT.
He said the proposal has been made to the government after the NCM studied the problems of Hindus in the north-eastern states and especially in Jammu & Kashmir. "It has been noticed that the Hindus who are a minority in these states suffer. We want the government to declare minority and majority status in every Indian state," Professor Mahmood said.
While the home ministry is yet to respond to the proposal, Sangh Parivar organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal are pressing it to take immediate steps to turn it into law.
The Parivar brigade has argued that granting minority status to Hindus will greatly mitigate their sufferings, especially in Jammu & Kashmir and the north-east.
The Sangh's idea is also to ensure that the Sikhs in Punjab and Christians in the north-eastern states lose their minority rights and government opportunities once Hindus are declared the minority in these states.
Minority communities are protected under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, which give them privileges like the right to establish and administer educational institutions with government aid. The Constitution also stipulates that the government should not discriminate against any educational institutions on the grounds that it is under the management of a minority, whether religious or linguistic.
Though Hindus comprise 82 per cent of India's more than 960 million people and constitute the majority in most states, Christians are in a majority in Mizoram, Nagaland and Meghalaya while Muslims and Sikhs predominate in Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab, respectively.
According to the 1991 Census, Muslims constitute 12.12 per cent of the country's population, Christians 2.32 per cent, Sikhs 1.94 per cent, Buddhists 0.76 per cent, and Jains 0.4 per cent.
Muslims dominate Jammu and Kashmir.
Sikhs form 62.95 per cent of Punjab's 20 million people while Hindus make up only 34.46 per cent.
In Nagaland, Christians make up 87 per cent of the population while Hindus account for just 10.12 per cent. In Mizoram and Meghalaya, Hindus constitute 5 and 14.67 per cent, respectively, against 85 and 64 per cent Christians.
Home ministry officials said the government is yet to take a decision on the matter. The NCM proposal will be taken up for discussion in the next meeting of the Cabinet and subsequently in the Budget session of Parliament.
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