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Jews to get minority status in Maharashtra

June 21, 2016 18:20 IST

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday approved a proposal to grant minority status to Jews in the state.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

“Maharashtra cabinet approves minority status to Jew community. This decision will benefit students from these communities to avail scholarships from the state government and setting up of educational institutions,” Fadnavis said.

The move, which was announced by then Maharashtra Minority Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse, is expected to make life easier for members of the community in the state.

After being officially recognised as a minority community, the Jews would enjoy several privileges like other minority communities. It would become easier for them to register their marriages. They would also be able to set up their own educational institutes and practise and promote their culture.

Jews have been a part of the Indian society for over 2,300 years now.

According to 2001 Census, the number of Jews living in India was 4,650 with 2,466 of them residing in Maharashtra.

However, principal secretary of minority department Jayashree Mukherjee said the state government has no official record of the number of people from the community in Maharashtra.

She also said that there will not be an additional burden on the state exchequer with their inclusion in minorities.

“The Jews should have been given (minority status) long back, but somehow they weren’t given. The government has no official records of the number of people in the community as their population is too less. But, according to them (community members), their population in the state is 2,466,” she said.

When asked why the community was given the minority status now, she said, “They asked for it now so we gave it.”

“As far as financial aspects are concerned, their inclusion will not have any effect on the state exchequer and the burden will borne from the existing budget itself,” Mukherjee said.

The Jews of Manipur and Mizoram identify themselves as Beni Menashe. There are also some in Andhra Pradesh who call themselves Bene Ephraim Jews.

India is one of the few countries in the world where Jews have never faced any harassment or persecution.

The cabinet also approved setting up of counter insurgency and anti-terrorist school at Surabuldi, Nagpur.

This will provide state-of-the-art training facilities to police department for jungle and field tactics, map reading, ambush and handling of different weapons.

The Centre and Maharashtra government will jointly contribute funds for this school. The Cabinet also sanctioned creation of various posts for this school.

The cabinet approved handing over of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital from Ichalkaranji Municipal Council to the state government.

It also decided to hand over 1440 sq mt of govt land to Gondia Municipal Council for construction of a ‘Samaj Bhavan’.

“Cabinet considers this decision as a special case and the government fulfilled its assurance given on the floor of the house,” Fadnavis tweeted.

The meeting approved giving wages to employees from Industrial & Labour Courts, Commissionerate of workmen’s compensation & wages board, Mumbai as per Shetty Commission recommendations and the difference of wages would be paid in two equal installments.

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