Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Modi govt seeking to "whittle down" Prime Minister's 15-point programme for minorities

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by a group of activists led by well-known Christian human rights campaigner John Dayal has said that attempts are being made to severely “whittle down” the Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme for Minorities, which are considered “a lifeline for severely economic backward communities, and especially their youth seeking higher education and professional training.”
The 15-Point Programme was floated by the former UPA government after a committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar came up with a report in 2005 about the condition of minorities in India and suggesting steps to alleviate their plight.
Recently, a new report on the condition of minorities was submitted by top academic Amitabh Kundu to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, with fresh steps to alleviate minorities’ plight. The Ministry is said to be considering rejecting the report, as it stresses on steps to insert a sense of confidence among minorities.
Documenting incidence of communal violence and arson under Modi, among those who helped prepare the 109 report, “300 Days: Documenting Sangh Hate and Communal Violence under the Modi Regime”, are Kiren Shaheen, Liris Thomas, Mansi Sharma, Shabnam Hashmi, Shahnaz Husain, Tehmina Arora, and Vijayesh Lal. The report, in its interim form, has been forwarded to media by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Gujarat) general secretary Guatam Thakkar.
The report documents 43 deaths in over 600 cases of violence, 149 targeting Christians and the rest Muslims in these 300 days, pointing out, “An analysis of the Christian data alone shows Chhattisgarh topping the list with 28 incidents of crime, followed closely by neighbouring Madhya Pradesh with 26, Uttar Pradesh with 18 and Telengana, a newly carved out of Andhra Pradesh, with 15 incidents.”
It says, “Of the deaths in communally targeted violence, two were killed in Orissa and Telengana, eight in Gujarat, 12 in Maharashtra, six in Karnataka and 25 in Uttar Pradesh. Apart from these, 108 people were killed in Assam in attacks by Bodo militant groups. Much of the violence has taken place after the new government headed by Modi came into power on May 26, 2014.”
“The violence peaked between August and October with 56 cases, before zooming up to 25 cases during the Christmas season, including the burning of the Catholic church of St Sebastian in Dilshad garden in the national capital of New Delhi. The violence has continued well into the New Year 2015, with more Catholic churches in the city targeted as incidents continue in other states”, the report says.
“Much of the violence, 54 percent, is of threats, intimidation, coercion, often with the police looking on. Physical violence constituted a quarter of all cases, (24 per cent), and violence against Christian women, a trend that is increasingly being seen since the carnage in Kandhamal, Odisha, in 2007 and 2008, was 11 per cent”, it points out.
Calling the rape of the aged Catholic nun in a Convent in Ranaghat in West Bengal “the most horrendous crime reported in the first quarter of 2015”, the report says, “A police report submitted to the state government said the criminals were not locals and this is a pre-planned on the school and sisters.”
Referring to the recent speech by Modi at a function of the Syro Malabar Catholic community, where he tried to “equate” majority and minority groups, the report says, despite so much of violence “Modi has not reprimanded his Cabinet colleagues, restrained the members of his party members or silence the Sangh Parivar, which claims to have propelled him to power in New Delhi.”
The report says that Modi’s 300 days in office saw “assault on democratic structures, the education and knowledge system, human rights organizations and rights defenders, and coercive action using the Intelligence Bureau and the systems of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act and the Passport laws to crack down on NGOs working in areas of empowerment of the marginalized sections of society.”

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