Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why just Rs 55 lakh budget funds for Gujarat minorities? Rights group to hand 1 lakh signatures to CM Rupani

By Our Representative
Gujarat's new minority rights organization, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), which proposes to hand over a list of eight demands signed by over one lakh individuals, mainly Muslims, on February 14, to chief minister Vijay Rupani, has said that it wants the state government to raise the "negligible" allocation made in the budget for them, which is just Rs 55 lakh.
Founded as non-political body on World Minority Rights Day, December 18, 2016, MCC convener Mujahid Nafees told media persons ahead of the state budget session, which begins next week, that the current budgetary allocation for the minorities -- clubbed with other socially excluded communities -- stands in sharp contrast to what it is in other states.
Minorities are about 11.5% of the state population. The Gujarat budget for 2017-18 is Rs 1.72 lakh crore.
"The allocation in other states for minorities, too, is low compared to their population, but it is not as pitiable", Nafees said, rolling out approximate figures of other states. Thus, he said, it is Rs 700 crore in UP, Rs 1,700 crore in West Bengal, Rs 600 crore in Kerala, Rs 2000 crore in Telangana, and Rs 900 crore in Bihar. The Government of India allocated Rs 4,304 crore for minority affairs in the 2018-19 budget.
"The signatures were collected after the third phase of the campaign began January 15", Nafees said, adding, "During the previous two campaigns, we sent over one lakh postcards to the chief minister, and then represented to the collectors of all the Gujarat districts with identical demands."
Other demands include formation of a separate minority affairs department headed by a minister, a state minority commission, recognition of madarsas equivalent to Gujarat board, with the state providing them with necessary support to modernise them, and opening of government higher secondary schools where the minorities live in considerable number.
Then, there are demands regarding a policy for the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons due to natural disaster and communal violence, and implementation of the Prime Minister’s new 15 point programme for minorities' amelioration. "We find that none of the 15 points are being implemented in Gujarat, except for two, that too marginally", Nafees said.
"We are not demanding anything more than the Constitutional provision", Nafees said, adding, "As many as 18 states, including those rules by the BJP for quite some time, like Madhya Pradesh, have separate minorities department, with a minister heading it, while Gujarat doesn't have it. Same is the case with the minorities commission."
Asked whether the chief minister has agreed to meet his team, which would consist of representatives from all the districts, Nafees said, "Not so far. We submitted the letter seeking appointment to the chif minister's office on February 2, yet there is no communication. We hope he would meet us."
"However, if he does not, we have other options, such as intensifying our campaign, representing to the governor, starting demonstrations, and so on", he added.
"We hope such situation will not arise", he said, insisting, "We will be meeting him on the Valentine's Day, a good day to begin an amicable relationship between the minorities and the authorities. We will present him rose. During our campaign, we found, for the first time, there was some hope that a solution to minorities problems is possible if we make the authorities understand them."

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