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Minority body demands India uphold constitution guarantees

National Conference for Minority also calls for an equal opportunities commission at convention in New Delhi
P. Wilson, a member of the Indian Rajya Sabha, or Upper House of parliament, addressing a convention of the National Conference for Minority in New Delhi on May 27

P. Wilson, a member of the Indian Rajya Sabha, or Upper House of parliament, addressing a convention of the National Conference for Minority in New Delhi on May 27. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

Published: May 29, 2023 08:46 AM GMT
Updated: May 29, 2023 09:17 AM GMT

A national body of Indian minorities has demanded the federal government guarantee them the constitutionally protected right to practice and profess their religion and protect them from hate speech, intimidation, attacks and killings.

Some 100 members of the National Conference for Minority and invitees including politicians, activists, writers and students made the demands at a gathering on May 27 at the Constitution Club in the national capital New Delhi to discuss the situation of religious minorities across the country

The one-day convention also demanded the setting up of an equal opportunities commission to ensure a proportional share in the nation’s finances and resources, besides fair representation in electoral politics of the country.

P. Wilson, a Christian member of the Rajya Sabha, or Upper House of the Indian parliament, said Christians had contributed immensely to nation building, especially in the fields of education and health, but instead of acknowledging it they were being falsely blamed for religious conversions.

Wilson, who is a lawyer from the southern Tamil Nadu state, said: “Minorities are also citizens of this country and India belongs to them equally.”

Syed Imtiyaz Jaleel, a Muslim member of the Lok Sabha, or Lower House of parliament, recalled being educated in a Christian missionary school “but never seeing any priest or nun asking someone to follow Christianity or forcing to attend church or any prayer service.”

“Had the Christian missionaries been involved in religious conversions, half of the Indian population would have been following Christianity. Most of the so-called elite even today prefer to send their children to study in a missionary school,” he said.

Both the parliamentarians said that Indian democracy was under great pressure to survive under the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party government.

“I am afraid democracy will soon be history. Time has come to bring in a government that is secular,” Jaleel said.

Wilson said the general election in 2024 will be an opportune time for all Indians to decide on electing a new government.

Rahul Dambale, founder member and president of the National Minority Council, said seven resolutions to protect the interests of minority communities were adopted at the convention. They will be presented to the Indian president and federal authorities seeking concrete action from them.

A.C. Michael, president of the Federation of Catholic Associations of the Archdiocese of Delhi told UCA News on May 27 that this was “the first such platform in the country where minorities irrespective of caste, creed and religion came together and united to fight the sectarian forces that divide people in the name of religion and caste.”

Muslims are the largest minority in India at 14.2 percent of the nation’s 1.4 billion people, while Christians make up 2.3 percent of the population.

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