Saturday, January 19, 2019
Gujarat minorities demanding rehabilitation package for 2002 communal riot affected people
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.
Text of the letter:
You have been the Chief Minister of Gujarat for threetimes and are now the Prime Minister of the country, and this is a Constitutional post. You took oath while becoming Chief Minister and Prime Minister that you will follow the Constitution of this country. But we are very sorry to tell you that you appear to not very keen to fulfil your Constitutional responsibilities and respect the international treaties to which India is a signatory.
When you were the Chief Minister of Gujarat, you gave the slogan “sabka vikas, sabke saath” (development of all, by taking along all together), but you forgot to develop the minorities; not only that, you pushed minorities even further to the wall.
Sir, you have tried very hard to get rid of the Constitutional dictum, that the state is not aligned with any particular religion; instead, you have tried to pit Hindus against Muslims. But we are happy to inform you that citizens of India have woken up and they have started demanding implementation of their constitutional rights.
On January 18, 2019, we had planned to tell this to you, and also wanted to remind you to keep high the dignity of the office you occupy, and that you should obey international treaties. However, you took away our constitutional right to protest. Police picked us up from our home and we were made to sit in the police station throughout the day. It did not add to the dignity of the office you occupy.
This has made us write this open letter to you.
We feel that you must ensure that the Constitutional rights of the minorities, which are enshrined in Sections 14,15(2), 15(4), 16(1), 16(2), 16(4), 25(1), 26,27, 28,29(1), 29(2), 30(1, 30(2), 347, 350(A), 350(B), 37,38(2), 46,51(A), 51(C) of the Constitution, are taken care of.
These sections refer to equality before law and state, non-discrimination on the basis of religion, ethnicity, race, sex, or place of birth, special care to socially and educationally backward classes, protecting the interests of minorities, including their distinct language, script or culture – all of which is not being implemented in Gujarat today.
India is a signatory to Articles 2, 6, 7, 8, and 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights dated December 10, 1948, which concern the development and protection of minorities. It is also a signatory to the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, dated December 18, 1992.
More recently, after you took over reigns of the government, in 2015, India signed on the United Nations treaty on Millennium Development Goal (Sustainable Development Goals), whose goal Nos 10 and 16 especially focus on minorities.
While India has accepted these international agreements, these are not being implemented in Gujarat.
The Minority Coordination Committee (MCC) wants to pose to you a few questions, and we will be happy to get their answers in any pre-planned press conference which you may wish to address:
As you know, there exists the need to have a separate department to run schemes for the development for any community identified as backward. Taking this into account, in 2006, a Minority Affairs Ministry was set up at the Centre, and departments on similar lines were set up in several states. Why not in Gujarat?
The Government of India set aside Rs 4,700 crore for this year for the development of minorities. Similarly, separate allocation have been made in some other states of the country. Why not in Gujarat?
There exists National Minorities Commission at the Centre and State Minority Commissions in 18 states for the redress of the grievances of minority communities. Why not in Gujarat?
In Gujarat, the girls’ dropout rate at the primary school level is 1.67%, but it 10.58% among the state’s Muslim girls. What this?
Why is there a severe shortage of higher secondary schools in Gujarat’s minority-dominated areas?
In other states of the country, children studying Arabic, Persian and Urdu have been recognized as equivalent to the respective official languages. If this is true of the country and other states, why not in Gujarat?
Several government-appointed committees and commissions and their reports suggest that minority communities haven’t still not become part the mainstream, especially in Gujarat. If this is true, why can’t minorities in Gujarat have a special economic package, in the same way as other communities have been allocated on account of their backwardness?
Thousands of families have been displaced in Gujarat due to communal violence. Why didn’t Government of Gujarat come up with any policy for their rehabilitation?
Following the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, the Prime Minister’s new 15-point programme is being implemented by the Central government and in most Indian states. However, its implementation in Gujarat is almost non-existent. Why?
We hope that you will answer these questions and move towards fulfilling your Constitutional obligation and international treaties to which India is a signatory.
*Free translation from Hindi