Status of minority rights of Hindus and tribal religions in states of Bharat with non-Hindu majority – Part 2

Demography: Hindus as a minority in Bharat

As per the Census 2011 data18, Hindus are a minority in no less than seven states and one union territory in Bharat, as represented in the table. Many more states such as Kerala, Assam, Goa and West Bengal also have a very high “minority” population.

State Hindu population “Minority” population Dominant Religion
Jammu & Kashmir 28.44% 71.56% Islam
Lakshadweep 2.77% 97.23% Islam
Punjab 38.4% 61.6% Sikhism
Arunachal Pradesh 29% 71% Christianity
Mizoram 2.75% 97.25% Christianity
Manipur 41.39% 58.61% Christianity
Meghalaya 11.53% 88.47% Christianity
Nagaland 8.75% 91.25% Christianity

Status Of Hindu And Tribal Minorities In States With Non-Hindu Majority

In numerous judgments including the Kerala Education Bill Case (1957), the DAV College Case19 and TMA Pai Foundation Case, The Supreme Court has upheld the principle of safeguarding the educational rights of the minorities enshrined in Article 30(1) of the Constitution, and in Bal Patil & Anr vs Union of India & Ors, it stated that “since reorganization of States in India has been on linguistic lines, therefore, for the purpose of determining the minority, the unit will be the State and NOT THE WHOLE OF INDIA”.

In the TMA Pai Case, the Supreme Court held that “a minority either linguistic or religious is determinable only by reference to demography of the State and not by taking into consideration the population of the country as a whole”.10 This also applies to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Under Articles 341 to 342, the President is empowered to draw up a list in consultation with the Governor of each State, subject to revision by Parliament.

103rd Amendment Bill 2004 – put in cold storage

In 2004, the UPA Government introduced the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Bill that seeks to have State-wisupose minority status rather than national status, in line with Supreme Court Judgments. As per the provisions of this Bill, minorities in the State would be decided through a Presidential notification in consultation with the State Government.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Bill, 2004 along with National Commission for Minorities (Repeal) Bill, 2004 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 23.12.2004. The National Commission for Minorities (Repeal) Bill, 2004 repealed the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. It proposed to dissolve the National Commission for Minorities. The Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Bill, 2004 proposed to establish a new National Commission for Minorities, with a constitutional status, in order to inspire greater confidence towards the effectiveness of the Commission.

As per the 103rd Amendment Bill, states would be asked for their view, on the basis of data available, as to who is a minority. They would be consulted by the President of Bharat, who would then notify the minorities in that state. While the President is to consult the states, he would not be bound to act on their advice. The Bills were referred to the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment under the Chairmanship of Smt. Sumitra Mahajan, and the committee submitted its report on February 21, 2006 in which it recommended that the Supreme Court’s directives in the case of Bal Patil & anr vs Union of India should be considered in its entirety. 20,21

The Bill was stiffly opposed by existing “minorities” on the grounds that implementing the Supreme Court judgments to notify Hindus as a minority community in states where the national minority was in majority, would amount to “obfuscating the issue”. The BJP opposed it on the grounds that the country has already been divided enough on religious grounds. 22,23 The 103rd Amendment Bill was not presented in the last session of the 14th Lok Sabha on February 2009 and was allowed to lapse and was not reintroduced during the rest of the UPA term until 2014.

Narendra Modi Government’s stand on Minority Commissions and on Hindus and native tribal religions being declared minorities

Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs, in Lok Sabha on 12 August 2015 stated that the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Sikkim and UTs of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep and Puducherry have not yet set up a Minority Commission in their respective States/UTs. He said that the NCM Act does not extend to state of Jammu & Kashmir. Tripura has passed a Bill in this regard on 26.11.2008 which awaits assent of the President.

In so far as the Central Government is concerned, he stated that Hindus have not been declared as a minority community under Section 2(c) of National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992 and that setting up of Minority Commissions by the State Governments was a State subject and no time frame could be fixed for formation of Minority Commissions by State Governments as it was for them to decide. 24

The stand taken by BJP on the 103rd Amendment Bill is contrary to the public demands of minority status for Hindus made by both the BJP and the RSS25. Judging from Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s statement and the BJP’s opposition to the Bill in 2007, unless there is a major rethink, it is unlikely that the Narendra Modi Government will reintroduce the 103rd Amendment Bill in Parliament.

Punjab – Sikh majority

As per the Census 2011 data, Hindus constitute 38.4% of the population of Punjab and are a religious minority in the state. However, they enjoy no such benefits that accrue to minorities in Bharat. On the contrary, Sikhs, the dominant religious and economic group in the state, enjoy minority benefits. In DAV College Bhatinda vs State of Punjab and Ors26, the Supreme Court rejected the contention that since Hindus were a majority in Bharat, they could not be a religious minority in the State of Punjab, and held that the State is the unit to determine whether the Hindus were a minority community.

However, the state of Punjab has not notified the minority Hindu community to enable them to avail the rights of a minority. Do Sikhs, the dominant religious and economic community of Punjab, a notified minority, constitute a minority in Punjab? The Punjab Government notified SGPC as a minority institution, which was challenged in Court. The Supreme Court is currently hearing the matter, and this has opened up a can of worms.

The Supreme Court has also asked the question: do Christians constitute minority in the North Eastern states where they are in majority? And it has asked the state governments to file their replies27. Those replies are interesting too, as we shall see later in the article.

Jammu & Kashmir – Muslim majority

As per the 2011 Census, Muslims are 68.31% of the population of the state. Due to its special status under the Constitution, J&K has its own constitution that does not even provide for minority rights. The NCM Act too does not apply to J&K. To correct this obvious discrepancy, minority Hindu and other religious groups in the state of J&K have been fighting for minority status since several years. It may be pointed out that the proposals were put forward to Farooq Abdullah and L K Advani as well, and no decision was taken by them on this issue, despite the J&K unit of BJP itself making this demand on several occasions. 28

Finally, Jammu-based advocate Ankur Sharma approached the Supreme Court of Bharat in January 2016 and sought its intervention so that the minority Hindus in Jammu & Kashmir got benefits which minority communities in the rest of the country, including Sikhs and Jains, enjoy. The PIL which he filed said that benefits accruing to minorities were being taken away by Muslims who were in a majority in Jammu and Kashmir. The PIL also said that rights of religious and linguistic “minorities” in the State were being “siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily” due to extension of benefits to “unqualified sections” of the population.

The PIL, in addition, urged the Supreme Court to direct the authorities in the state and at the Centre to set up a “State Minority Commission for identification of minorities”. As per the PIL, the communities which were eligible to be notified as minorities, were not awarded their due share of scholarship owing to their non-identification as minorities, thereby jeopardizing their Constitutionally guaranteed rights enshrined under Part III of the Constitution of Bharat. “This clearly reflects the unfairness and discrimination of the State towards the communities in the state of Jammu and Kashmir which are eligible to be notified as minorities,” the PIL said.

The PIL also sought directions to consider extension of National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992 to Jammu and Kashmir, and make amendments so that benefits available to minorities of other States could also be given to the minorities of J&K, and to “appoint a committee of experts functioning under the direct supervision of this court to submit a comprehensive report identifying communities of the State of Jammu and Kashmir which qualify as religious and linguistic minorities.”

The PIL urged the apex court to “Constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a High Court Judge (retired) working under direct supervision of this Court for investigating the illegal and arbitrary disbursement of minority benefits under the Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme to the communities”.28,29,30

The J&K Government has opposed the PIL and submitted an affidavit to this effect. J&K’s Minister for Social Welfare Sajad Gani Lone told the legislative council that there was no need to establish a minority commission in the state, while rejecting demands from BJP legislators. “Such demands will add fire. Jammu has a Hindu majority and Kashmir has a Muslim majority. We cannot declare minorities at block levels and have to follow national criteria,” Lone said.29

The Narendra Modi Government at the Centre has not filed any affidavit, angering the local Hindu community who expected them to file an affidavit in support of their long-standing demand. The case again came up for consideration recently, but the Centre again failed to give its opinion on this important case. As a result, the Supreme Court imposed a cost of Rs. 30,000 on the Centre for not filing its reply to a PIL.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana allowed the counsel for the Centre to file the response after depositing the cost within two weeks, and noted that a fine of Rs. 15,000 was also imposed last time for the same reason.31 The matter is pending before the Court, and a decision on this in favour of Hindus could be pathbreaking for similar rights to be granted to them in other states where they are in minority.

Mizoram – Christian majority

The Christian Churches of Mizoram have, over the past 20 years, converted the natives of the state on a massive scale, and presently, 87.16% of the population of the state is Christian. Non-Christians are in a constant state of persecution and pressure to convert, and enjoy no protection under the law.32 The legal benefits that should be available to a threatened minority, are perversely enjoyed by the dominant Christian community that is engaged in evangelizing the minority aggressively.33

In a 2011 article, RSS ideologue and a key member of BJP’s think tank, Ram Madhav, wrote an article describing the persecution of the Reang tribe of Mizoram. He stated, “They are the non-Christian tribe, whose original name is Bru. They inhabited the southern parts of the Christian dominated state of Mizoram. Being non-Christian in a Christian state had its price. Repeatedly subjected to persecution at the hands of the Mizo population as well as the political dispensation, the Reangs – or the Bru people – were finally hounded out of the state during prolonged communal strife in 1997. It is 14 years since they had become refugees in their own land. Escaping from the marauders, thousands of Reangs – men, women and children – fled into the neighbouring state of Tripura. For the last 14 years they have been living there in 7 different relief camps.” Their crime? The Brus had been demanding an autonomous council for themselves to escape years of persecution.

Ram Madhav writes, “For a long time they had been facing acute hardships at the hands of the majority Mizos in the areas where they traditionally lived. This discrimination reached its crescendo when the lists containing the names of the Bru people as voters had been mysteriously burnt down in a fire accident. In the subsequent re-enumeration, names of hundreds of Bru people were deliberately omitted. This forced the Bru leaders to go in for the demand of autonomous council in order to protect and preserve their identity.” 34

The movement turned violent with the formation of BNLF.35,36 After twelve years of repeated negotiations from 2001 onwards, in 2013, the Mizoram government again rejected the demand for an autonomous council.37 The Revolutionary Democratic Party of Mizoram has also filed a PIL to get the names of Bru refugees struck off the electoral rolls of Mizoram on the grounds that they are settled in Tripura now.38

The Narendra Modi Government has thereafter made sincere attempts at solving this longstanding vexed issue and sanctioned Rs.680 crores for the rehabilitation of Brus. Replying to an unstarred question raised by a Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha on December 23, 2015, Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, disclosed, “Due to ethnic violence in the Western part of Mizoram in October, 1997, about 30,000 Brus (5,000 families) migrated to North Tripura in 1997-98. As on date, approximately 8573 Brus (1622 families) have been repatriated. The Ministry of Home Affairs with the co-operation of the State Governments of Mizoram and Tripura has taken measures for return of Brus to Mizoram.”39

However, these numbers were disputed heavily by all parties concerned, with some contending that only one woman had gone back to her home village. 40 Presently, the process of identification of the refugees has taken off in earnest and as of November 2016, at least 26,903 Brus were identified as bonafide residents of Mizoram and the first batch of 40 families at Kaskau camp have also come forward for identification, ending 16 years of deadlocked negotiations.41,42,43,44 The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter for the displaced Brus who are finally being repatriated after two decades as refugees in their own land.

However, the non-Christian minorities of Mizoram continue to face an existential crisis in the state and do not enjoy any protection despite their rapidly depleting numbers. In May, an explosion caused by a bomb made from a bundle of gelatine sticks ripped through a temple inside the premises of the 26th battalion Assam Rifles in Aizawl, on the day when the opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) was organising a rally called ‘Milem Biak Duhloh Kawngzawh’ or ‘Anti-Idol Worshipping Rally.’45 Despite violent attacks on non-Christians and their religious places in the State, the Mizoram Government has not notified any community as a minority and has not formed a Minority Commission in the State nor offered any protection to them.

Meghalaya – Christian majority

As per the Census 2011, 74.59% of the population of Meghalaya is Christian. The State of Meghalaya does not provide any scheme or law to protect the rights of the religious minorities, instead preferring to maintain that they come under Scheduled Tribes and hence cannot be granted benefits rightfully due to religious minorities. The Seng Khasi and Sein Raij Jowai tribes of Meghalaya, a religious minority in the State, have repeatedly represented the case of tribal faith groups of Meghalaya.46

On 22nd July 2014, the Ministry of Minority Affairs of the Narendra Modi government issued a notification with regard to the representation of Seng Khasi tribe for Minority Status, in which it asked the Government of Meghalaya to take a decision on the representation as per the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.47

In April 2015, the matter was represented to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the Union Ministry of Minorities Affairs forwarded the same to the Chief Minister of Meghalaya for appropriate action.48 However, the government of Meghalaya did not bother to respond to the representations of the religious minorities, who were in 2015 forced to move the Meghalaya High Court again, claiming that they were being deprived of their fundamental rights and human rights guaranteed under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution of Bharat.

The legal counsel of the Center and State told the Court that though the order of the Court had been forwarded to the concerned Ministry, no instruction had been received till date. The Court in its order of 15 December 2015, stated that “We take a serious note of the matter and issue notice with direction to the respondents to show cause as to why the Central Government not be directed to hold inquiry into the allegation that the minority tribes in Meghalaya are being deprived of their entitlements as the aforesaid without any ostensible valid ground”. It directed that “during the pendency of this petition, before the next date of hearing, all the pending representations filed by all or any such minority tribes whether Niam Khasi in Khasi Hills or Niam Tre in Jaintia, or Sansarik, Koch, Hajong, Rabha and others in Garo Hills, shall be disposed of by the Respondents on merit and the State Government shall ensure that there is no deprivation or denial of their entitlements on the grounds of caste, creed, religion, tribe and clan etc., nor is there any allurement/inducement or pressure causing any interference with their culture and religious faith or any other fundamental and human rights”.49,50,51,52

The State Government of Meghalaya assured the court in January 2016 that it would appoint a high-powered committee to look into the matter and come to a decision. What happened subsequently? In March 2016, the Meghalaya Government represented to the Supreme Court during hearings on the Punjab Sikh reservation case, that “Christians did not constitute a minority in Meghalaya and hence were not entitled to its benefits” – as they avail only ST Certificates. The Law Department official said that “when the case of pending demand for minority status to Niam Khasi and Niam Tre came up, the stand of the Government was that there was no instance of issuing minority certificates to the Niam Khasi and Niam Tre as the indigenous people in Meghalaya, irrespective of religious affiliations, avail only ST certificates”.53

Looking at a larger picture in this case, the Christian government has sacrificed its non-existent minority status in Meghalaya to deny a religious minority status to non-Christian tribes. It would make perfect sense when seen in another context – STs retain their rights even after conversion to Christianity. A denial of acknowledgement of religious rights of non-Christian minorities points to the real intent, that of denial of the right of any religion other than Christianity to exist.  This also indicates that conversion of the remaining native tribes will continue unabated, and their non-Christian identity will be wiped out as an instrument of state policy under the cover of maintaining their tribal status. Thankfully, the tribes have organized into a mass movement with quiet support from the RSS and the VHP since the 1970s, and this may not be the last we will hear about this issue.54,55,56,57

Manipur – Christian dominance

The Manipur State Minorities Commission Act 2010 defines minorities as a community notified as such by the State Government under section, 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 as well as the Community/Communities notified by the State Government based upon the circumstances/conditions prevailing in the State.58 However, despite being a minority community in the state of Manipur, the State has not notified Hindus for availing any of the benefits of a minority and all efforts of the State of Manipur are towards improvement of already dominant majority communities of the State under the guise of “protecting the interests of the minority”.

Representatives of all religions except Hindus are appointed on the Board of the Manipur State Minority Commission. In January 2016, Mr Syed Burhanuddin was appointed Chairman of the Minority Commission.59 A perusal of the Annual Administrative Report of the Government of Manipur Department for the Welfare of Minorities and Other Backward Classes clearly shows that the dominant Christian community is cornering all the benefits meant for the minorities in the State.

  • Minority pre-matric scholarship was offered to 11426 nos. of Christian, 2598 nos. of Muslims, 30 nos. of Buddhist, 26 nos. of Sikhs, 13 nos. of Parsis and 23 nos. of Jains, and Minority post-matric scholarship was offered to 1904 nos. of Christian, 493 nos. of Muslims, 05 nos. of Buddhist, 04 nos. of Sikhs, 04 nos. for Jains and 02 nos. of Parsis.
  • 59 Muslims, 229 Christians, 1 Sikh and 1 Buddhist were offered Minority Merit cum Means Based Scholarship (100% CSS).
  • An amount of Rs. 200.00 lakhs was encashed and released to the Wakf Board, Manipur for Educational Activities; Social Welfare Activities; Modernization of Madrassa and other related expenses of the Board during 2014-2015, and a sum of Rs. 30 lakhs was sanctioned for Hajj pilgrimage and other related expenses.
  • The following allotments were made towards development of the OBCs, which include Muslim OBCs: Rs. 280 lakhs for Post Matric scholarship to 4014 students, Rs.51.98 lakh for Pre-Matric scholarship to 5081 students, Rs.35 lakhs for socio-economic development schemes for OBCs., and a fraction of them enjoy a few government schemes by virtue of being OBCs. 60

In 2011, the appointment of a Christian member Rev N. Debendra Singh to the minority commission came after the request and recommendation of the Christian Council. Dr. John Dayal, AICC Secretary General, and Rev. Madhu Chandra, AICC Public Relation Officer and Spokesperson of North East Support Centre & Helpline, demanded this representation on the board of the Minority Commission alleging “human rights violations against Christian minorities” – laughable, considering that they are in majority in the state. 61,61

In a December 2016 “bandh” organized by locals in Imphal, miscreants vandalized some glass panes of the Manipur Baptist Convention Center Church. This incident was enough for the National Council of Churches in India to write to the Prime Minister alleging that “such violent incidents stemming from socio-political or religious fundamentalism, communalism and bigotry, cause the erosion of values of secularism and a diminished sense of security or ease” further stating that “the secular fabric is being threatened and the peace of the land is in danger, we assert the provisions in our precious constitution about freedom of expression, religion and life”. They “earnestly and urgently” appealed to the state and national authorities to:

  • Protect the Church from being subjected to atrocities and vandalism;
  • Protect religious freedom and religious minorities in North-East India;
  • Form Inter-religious peace forums to strengthen and promote communal harmony;
  • Install specific programs to foster mutual respect across all sections of society;
  • Stop the violence caused by divisive elements in society.
  • Repeal the bills that are against the interests of the tribal people in this area. 63,64

In other words, a constant narrative of Christian persecution is sought to be maintained at all times, even when in majority: whether it is the truth or not is a different story altogether. And every minor incident, even if unrelated, can and will be used to further the allegations of persecution, and to push the agenda of the Church further ahead.

Nagaland – Christian majority (over 93% of population)

Vice Chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Dr. HT Sangliana, who represents the Christian community, in 2011 said that Nagaland should set up a State Commission for Minorities where a Christian member can be the chairperson or president and others can be members of the commission and facilitate annual general budget, subsidies, funds and scholarships. 65 Here, we have an example of a state that is 93% Christian appointing a Christian as President of its Minorities Commission!

There are long-standing demands of the Heraka – Zeliangrong, Meitei and various other tribes who are struggling to maintain their traditional culture and religion against the might of the Christian conversion juggernaut, for protection as minorities.66 However, the State government has done nothing to grant any protection to these tiny minorities. On the contrary, Christian intimidation, persecution and conversion of the tribes is continuing relentlessly. In August 2015, a Heraka temple was defiled and demolished in the village of the Chief Minister of Nagaland by Church activists.67

Clearly, the real minorities in the State of Nagaland are under severe threat and enjoy no protection whatsoever, let alone benefits, that should rightly accrue to an endangered minority. Meanwhile, the overwhelming Christian majority of 93% also corners various schemes and programs meant for the minorities in the state of Nagaland.68,69

Arunachal Pradesh – Christian majority

The rise of Christianity in Arunachal Pradesh from near-zero two decades back to the largest religion in Arunachal Pradesh has been meteoric. Hindus are a minority in the state, but as in the other states, have never enjoyed any rights that these powerful global “minorities” do elsewhere in Bharat. Of grave concern to national security is the rise of the Greater Nagalim movement to try and assimilate the Arunachalis under the Naga banner, though they have nothing in common with Nagas – this movement that has been undertaken since the early 1990s is essentially a Baptist movement to unify the various tribes under one banner, to bring forth the “Kingdom of Christ” and eliminate the rich variety of traditions that have survived since centuries.70

The “Minority Concentration Districts” in Arunachal Pradesh notified in 2007 by the UPA Government are: 71

District Hindus Christians Others
East Kameng 15.67% 47.19% 37.14%
Lower Subansiri 11.5% 41.43% 47.07%
Changlang 32.17% 24.27% 43.36%
Tirap 18.47% 74.45% 7.08%

Except for Changlang which has a higher Buddhist population, the other districts have a clear dominance of Christian religion and Hindus are in minority. Yet, the huge number of schemes planned for these districts do not benefit the minority Hindu community and further enrich the dominant Christians.

Does the Supreme Court want to do away with notified minorities?

B R Ambedkar, the Father of the Bharatiya Constitution, made the following observations: “Speaking for myself, I have no doubt that the Constituent Assembly has done wisely in providing such safeguards for minorities as it has done. In this country both the minorities and the majorities have followed a wrong path. It is wrong for the majority to deny the existence of minorities. It is equally wrong for the minorities to perpetuate themselves. A solution must be found which will serve a double purpose. It must recognize the existence of minorities to start with. It must also be such that it will enable majorities and minorities to merge some day into one.” 72

In the Constituent Assembly debate, Sardar Patel stated, “If the process that was adopted which resulted in the separation of the country is to be repeated, then I say: those who want to have a place in Pakistan and not here. Here, we are building a nation and we are laying a foundation of One Nation, and those who choose to divide again and sow the seeds of disruption will have no place, no quarter here and I must say plainly enough”. Even Jawaharlal Nehru opposed the idea of a communal quota, saying, “A safeguard of this kind would have some point where there was autocratic or foreign rule, it would enable the monarch to play one community off against the other.”73

In the Bal Patil Case, the Honourable judges of the Supreme Court have observed:

“Commissions set up for minorities have to direct their activities to maintain integrity and unity of India by gradually eliminating the minority and majority classes. If, only on the basis of a different religious thought or less numerical strength or lack of health, wealth, education, power or social rights, a claim of a section of Indian society to the status of ‘minority’ is considered and conceded, there would be no end to such claims in a society as multi-religious and multi-linguistic as India is.

A claim by one group of citizens would lead to a similar claim by another group of citizens and conflict and strife would ensue. As such, the  Hindu society being based on caste, is itself divided into various minority groups. Each caste claims to be separate from the other. In a caste-ridden Indian society, no section or distinct group of people can claim to be in majority. All are minorities amongst Hindus. Many of them claim such status because of their small number and expect protection from the State on the ground that they are backward. If each minority group feels afraid of the other group, an atmosphere of mutual fear and distrust would be created posing serious threat to the integrity of our Nation. That would sow seeds of multi-nationalism in India. It is, therefore, necessary that Minority Commission should act in a manner so as to prevent generating feelings of multinationalism in various sections of people of Bharat.

The Commission instead of encouraging claims from different communities for being added to a list of notified minorities under the Act, should suggest ways and means to help create social conditions where the list of notified minorities is gradually reduced and done away with altogether.” 1

I leave it for the reader to judge whether this is happening, or even likely to happen any time in the future – or whether the Court or the Government will ever develop the spine needed to end this discrimination against the Hindus and allow the majority Hindu community in Bharat and the endangered tribal religions to enjoy the same rights under the Constitution as those enjoyed by the globally dominant “minorities”.

Concluding Remarks:

The provision under the Constitution to identify and notify a community as a ‘minority’ is meant for protecting and monitoring its progress and development. The object of conferring rights on minorities under Article 30 is to ensure that there will be equality between the majority and the minority. However, what we see happening in Bharat is that the rights meant to protect the interests of the minorities are being systematically misused to create a situation wherein the majority community is at a constant disadvantage even in states of Bharat where they are an endangered minority.

The 103rd Amendment to the Constitution to bring Minority Commissions in line with Supreme Court judgments, was allowed to lapse by the UPA Government after the Standing Committee under Smt. Sumitra Mahajan recommended that these Supreme Court judgments be incorporated fully into the Amendment. The statements of Ministry of Minority Affairs that setting up of Minority Commissions by the State Governments is a State subject and no time frame can be fixed for formation of Minority Commissions by State Governments as it is for them to decide, is nothing short of an abdication of its responsibilities towards implementation of multiple Supreme Court judgments that state that notification of minorities should be done based on their population at the State level.

A study of the status of Hindu minority in seven states and one union territory clearly reveals that the dominant majority in these states are at several advantages and corner the benefits meant for threatened minorities, while the real minorities in those states, the native religions of the tribals and the minority Hindus, get no protection. Most of the states where Hindus are a minority have not formed the Minority Commission and even the states that have, have appointed the members of the dominant majority in that state to the Commission, creating a situation which clearly deprives the threatened minorities in those states of their due protection under the Constitution.

Considering that the demand for declaring Hindus as minority in these states has been repeatedly made by both the BJP and the RSS, the reluctance to act swiftly to ensure that the Supreme Court judgments that support the stand taken by them are implemented, strikes a discordant note; though one can understand that they may want to wait for the pending judgments of the Court to take it further, the statements of the Ministry of Minority Affairs in this regard inspire no such confidence.

The Government should also take concrete steps to “help create social conditions where the list of notified minorities is gradually reduced and done away with altogether” as suggested by the Supreme Court – but till such time as this happens, the minority religions in states where notified minorities are actually the majority, must be given their due protection as envisaged by the Constitution.

REFERENCES:

  1. Supreme Court Judgment: Bal Patil & Anr. Vs Union of India & Ors. http://www.judis.nic.in/supremecourt/qrydisp.asp?tfnm=27098
  2. Gazette of India, Ministry of Minority Affairs Notificaton dated 27 January 2014 http://www.egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2014/157933.pdf
  3. Supreme Court Judgment: The Ahmedabad St. Xaviers College vs State Of Gujarat & Anr, 26 April, 1974 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/703393/
  4. Supreme Court Judgment: Kerala Education Bill vs Unknown https://indiankanoon.org/doc/161666/
  5. 10 minority schools get notice for taking fewer students from own communities http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/10-minority-schools-get-notice-for-taking-fewer-students-from-own-communities/articleshow/47636695.cms
  6. “Government’s definition of minority schools unacceptable” http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/governments-definition-of-minority-school-unacceptable/article3630821.ece
  7. Minutes of meeting of the Empowered Committee of Ministry of Minority Affairs dated 19.06.2014 http://minorityaffairs.gov.in/sites/default/files/86th_Emp_minutes1.pdf
  8. Parents protest new minority tag criteria http://www.deccanherald.com/content/414521/parents-protest-minority-tag-criteria.html
  9. Supreme Court Judgment: PA Inamdar & Ors vs State of Maharashtra & Ors https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1390531/
  10. Supreme Court Judgment: T.M.A.Pai Foundation & Ors vs State Of Karnataka & Ors https://indiankanoon.org/doc/512761/
  11. Supreme Court Judgment: Kerala Education Bill vs Unknown https://indiankanoon.org/doc/161666/
  12. Compendium of The Social Doctrine of the Church: Part 3 Ch 12, 1a para 532 http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html
  13. Supreme Court Judgment: DAV College Jalandhar vs State of Punjab https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1596466/
  14. Defining India’s Minorities http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/Defining-Indiarsquos-minorities/article14794192.ece
  15. 90 districts identified as Minority Concentration Districts http://twocircles.net/2007jun22/90_districts_identified_minority_concentration_districts.html
  16. Ministry of Minority Affairs Annual Report 2008-09 Government of India http://minorityaffairs.gov.in/sites/default/files/ar0809e.pdf
  17. Ministry of Minority Affairs Notification dated 10 February 2014: Programmes for Minority Concentration Districts under Multi Sectoral Development Programme (MsDP) http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=103356
  18. Demographic data used in this article is obtained from Census 2011 website census2011.co.in and http://www.census2011.co.in/religion.php
  19. Supreme Court Judgment: Dayanand Anglo Vedic College vs State of Maharashtra https://indiankanoon.org/doc/13651090/
  20. UPA changing the law to define who makes a minority at the State level http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/upa-changing-the-law-to-define-who-makes-a-minority-at-the-statelevel/32068/
  21. 103rd Amendment: No One Likes It – blog by @realitycheckind https://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2007/07/07/103rd-amendment-no-one-likes-it/
  22. BJP to oppose 103rd Indian constitutional amendment redefining minorities status http://twocircles.net/2007jul06/bjp_oppose_103rd_indian_constitutional_amendment_redefining_minorities_status.html
  23. Bill for giving constitutional status to NCM likely to lapse
  24. http://www.oneindia.com/2008/08/24/bill-for-giving-constitutional-status-to-ncm-likely-to-lapse-1219647215.html

  25. Ministry of Minority Affairs Notification dated 12 August 2015 Minority Commissions http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=124932
  26. Sangh Parivar demands minority status for Hindus in 6 states http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/jan/15christ.htm
  27. Supreme Court Judgment: DAV College Bhatinda vs State of Punjab & Ors https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1195632/
  28. Are Sikhs a minority or majority in Punjab, asks Supreme Court http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Are-Sikhs-a-minority-or-majority-in-Punjab-asks-SC/article14005424.ece
  29. J&K Minority Rights: Subverted and Fouled http://www.shehjar.com/list/116/1284/1.html
  30. J&K’s Hindus ‘miss out on minority welfare schemes’: India’s Supreme Court asks why a minorities panel hasn’t been set up in the country’s only Muslim-majority State http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-3687151/J-K-s-Hindus-miss-minority-welfare-schemes-India-s-Supreme-Court-asks-minorities-panel-hasn-t-set-country-s-Muslim-majority-state.html
  31. Are Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir denied minority benefits? http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/are-hindus-in-jammu-and-kashmir-denied-minority-benefits/1/713559.html
  32. Modi Govt also not for minority status to Hindus of J&K? Last opportunity to Centre http://www.earlytimes.in/newsdet.aspx?q=195553
  33. Religious cleansing of Hindus: Dr. Koenraad Elst, speaking in The Hague, 7 Feb. 2004, at the Agni conference on the persecution of Hindus in various countries http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/articles/Religious.html
  34. Is exclusion of minorities a State Policy in Mizoram? http://paritosh-chakma.blogspot.in/2013/02/is-exclusion-of-minorities-state-policy.html
  35. Samvada: Ram Madhav writes- ‘REANGS – VICTIMS OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN MIZORAM’ http://samvada.org/2011/news/ram-madhav-writes-reangs-victims-of-religious-persecution-in-mizoram/
  36. Bru National Liberation Front http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/mizoram/terrorist_outfits/BNLF.htm
  37. BNLF prod to repatriation https://www.telegraphindia.com/1051005/asp/northeast/story_5319712.asp
  38. No Autonomous Council For Reang Tribals: Mizoram http://www.igovernment.in/articles/21469/no-autonomous-council-for-reang-tribals-mizoram
  39. PIL opposes Brus as voters https://www.telegraphindia.com/1160608/jsp/northeast/story_89955.jsp#.WKQlIIF97IU
  40. Ministry of Home Affairs Press Release dated 22 July, 2015 Displacement of People http://pib.nic.in/newsite/mbErel.aspx?relid=123477
  41. Mizoram – Brus: Still Delayed Homecoming http://www.indocanadaoutlook.com/index.php/archives/2016/october-2016/2108-mizoram-brus-still-delayed-homecoming
  42. Government of India Ministry Of Home Affairs Rajya Sabha Unstarred Question No. 2804 to be answered on the 23rd December 2015: Bru Community Members settled in Tripura as Refugees http://mha1.nic.in/par2013/par2015-pdfs/rs-231215/2804.pdf
  43. MHA to release funds for Bru Repatriation Process: The Sangai Express, Imphal 21 September 2016 http://epaper.thesangaiexpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/TSE-EE-09-21-16-2.pdf
  44. At Least 26,903 Brus Identified As Bona Fide Mizoram Residents http://www.indian24news.com/india/at-least-26903-brus-identified-as-bona-fide-mizoram-residents/183752-news
  45. 40 families come forward for identification at Kaskau camp http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2016/nov/02/40-families-come-forward-for-identification-at-kaskau-camp-1534263.html
  46. Refugees from Mizoram threaten to boycott assembly polls http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/Refugees+from+Mizoram+threaten+to+boycott+assembly+polls/1/14003.html
  47. Explosion in Mizoram temple http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/explosion-in-mizoram-temple/article4742361.ece
  48. Seng Khasis demand recognition as minorities in Meghalaya http://www.theshillongtimes.com/2015/04/13/seng-khasis-demand-recognition-as-minorities-in-mlaya/
  49. Govt of India, Ministry of Minority Affairs notification dated 22 July 2014: Minority Status to Seng Khasi Tribes http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=107205
  50. Memo to PM seeks clarity on Seng Khasi http://www.theshillongtimes.com/2016/06/01/memo-to-pm-seeks-clarity-on-seng-khasi/
  51. HC directive on minority status to Niam Khasi http://www.nelive.in/meghalaya/news/hc-directive-minority-status-niam-khasi
  52. Court directs govt to bestow minority rights to Seng Khasi, Niam Tre http://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/english/meghalaya+times-epaper-meghalay/court+directs+government+to+bestow+minority+rights+to+seng+khasi+niamtre-newsid-48443298
  53. HC directs Chief Secretary to be present http://www.sentinelassam.com/meghalaya/story.php?sec=2&subsec=8&id=253183&dtP=2016-03-16&ppr=1
  54. ‘Christians do not enjoy minority status in State’ http://www.theshillongtimes.com/2016/01/21/christians-do-not-enjoy-minority-status-in-state/
  55. Sowing saffron in the North East http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/sowing-saffron-in-the-north-east/story-I9yoN1SKnwJUWvTzrhWcwM.html
  56. Sowing saffron, reaping lotus https://www.telegraphindia.com/1160522/jsp/7days/story_86900.jsp
  57. Meeting the threat of conversion http://www.hindubooks.org/Vision/ch3.html
  58. Sangh Parivar, the torch bearer of Hindutva in North East India also https://hinduexistence.org/2016/06/01/sangha-parivar-the-torch-bearer-of-hindutva-in-north-east-india-also/
  59. The Manipur State Minorities Commission Act, 2010: Act 9 of 2010 http://www.lawsofindia.org/pdf/manipur/2010/2010Manipur9.pdf
  60. Newly appointed Manipur State Minority Commission chairman felicitated http://ifp.co.in/page/items/30407/newly-appointed-manipur-state-minority-commission-chairman-felicitated
  61. Government of Manipur, Department for the Welfare of Minorities and OBCs: Annual Administrative Report 2014-15 http://mobcmanipur.gov.in/documents/AAR/2014-2015.pdf
  62. Christian representative for minority commission in Manipur http://www.nagalandpost.com/ChannelNews/Regional/RegionalNews.aspx?news=TkVXUzEwMDAwMDI5NQ%3D%3D-I6vBUdeGqS4%3D
  63. Manipur govt appoints Christian member in Minority Commission http://morungexpress.com/manipur-govt-appoints-christian-member-in-minority-commission/
  64. MBC, NE Churches decry attack on Imphal Church http://ifp.co.in/page/items/36343/mbc-ne-churches-decry-attack-on-imphal-church
  65. Manipur situation: Appeal Letter to Prime Minister and National Commission for Minorities, India http://ncci1914.com/2017/02/10/manipur-situation-appeal-letters-prime-minister-national-commission-minorities-india/
  66. Minority commission for Nagaland proposed https://indiaminorities.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/minority-commission-for-nagaland-proposed/
  67. Between culture and identity– Hindu schools in Naga areas http://aperipheraltwist.blogspot.in/2014/11/between-culture-and-identity-hindu.html
  68. Haraka Mandir demolished in CM’s village in Nagaland http://www.newsbharati.com/Encyc/2015/8/11/Haraka-Mandir-demolished-in-CM%E2%80%99s-village-in-Nagaland
  69. Scholarship for minority communities (Nagaland) http://www.nagalandpost.com/ChannelNews/State/StateNews.aspx?news=TkVXUzEwMDAzODAzOA%3D%3D-PR8MHoRjZj8%3D
  70. State Bank Of India: State-wise Achievement for Minority Community Lending (MCL) for the Quarter ended 30.06.2014 https://www.sbi.co.in/webfiles/uploads/files/1409229067869_ANNEXURE_D_30_JUL14.pdf
  71. Dark ‘State’ Called Nagalim: Arunachal’s Evangelists Pose Grave Threat To National Security https://swarajyamag.com/politics/dark-state-called-nagalim-arunachals-evangelists-pose-grave-threat-to-national-security
  72. Ministry of Minority Affairs: grants in aid for Centrally sponsored schemes of multi sectoral development for Minority Concentration Blocks to Govt of Arunachal Pradesh http://www.minorityaffairs.gov.in/node/2334/
  73. Ambedkar’s address to Constituent Assembly of India Vol VII 4th November 1948 http://parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/debates/vol7p1b.htm
  74. Why India must have no place for religious minority http://www.dailyo.in/politics/constitution-of-india-minority-sikhs-punjabs-supreme-court-muslims-christians/story/1/8903.html

You can read Part 1 of the article here

(Featured Image Credit: https://featuresgalleried.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/are-indian-tribals-hindus/)


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About the Author

Dr. Amit Thadani

Practising surgeon, musician, social activist, amateur photographer. Convener, BJP Doctors Cell Mumbai.

  • uma singh

    telugu newspapers
    Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. And it is very clear and informative.