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Jammu Kashmir
‘NCM dividing Hindus in J&K’
P L Uniyal
NEW DELHI, Jun 15: Kashmiri Pandits and Dogra groups have accused National Commission of Minorities (NCM) chairman Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi of trying to “divide Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir” rather than urging the central government to prevail upon the PDP-BJP coalition in the state to extend the NCM Act-1992.

Rizvi had recently said displaced Kashmiri Hindus from the valley should be given minority status to allow them to get benefits of various schemes.

Prominent members of both the communities have said the successive governments in the only Muslim majority state in India have stalled the extension of the Act in J&K due to Article 370, which grants it special status. J&K is the only state in the country without a minority commission to safeguard interests of Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, who fall in the minority category as Muslims constitute 68 per cent of the 1.25 crore population of J&K.

“Sects or cults within a religion cannot be picked up and declared as minorities anywhere in India. The minorities in J&K are Hindus (which include Kashmiri Pandits as well), Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Jains, who are being discriminated against at various levels. We have BJP governments in New Delhi and J&K and they should act,” said advocate Ankur Sharma, who had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2016 seeking a direction to the state to set up a minority commission to safeguard rights of religious and linguistic minorities.

Minorities under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India are recognised on the basis of religion and language. Therefore religion as a whole can only be considered as a unit for declaring any community as a minority.

The state faces a unique problem. Here Muslims are in majority while Hindus and other communities are in minority. So the constitutional amendment to the J&K constitution is necessary so that schemes for the minority groups are implemented properly.

“First the process should be initiated to de-notify Muslims of J&K as minorities, as they despite forming majority in the state are still getting benefits of various schemes,” said Dr Ajay Chrangoo, Panun Kashmir (PK) chairman.

Padma Shri K N Pandita, who had also fought a long battle for rights of displaced Pandits, said mere statements could not end discrimination. “The J&K constitution has not defined any minorities and not extended the NCM Act in the state. The successive governments in the state have overlooked the same. It is a very complex issue involving legal aspects,” Pandita said.

Meanwhile, a group of social activists under the banner of the Jammu for India (JFI) has expressed surprise over the statement of the NCM chairman. “All Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs deserve minority status in the state. They have being denied the rights enjoyed by minorities in other parts of the country,” said Prof Hari Om, historian and member of the JFI.

News Updated at : Friday, June 16, 2017
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