Wajahat Habibullah, the National Commission for Minorities chief, will meet Gujarat CM Narendra Modi “soon” to flag its concerns over minority welfare in the state.
Habibullah’s request for meeting with Modi comes in the wake of his earlier criticism that the state government had inadequately addressed disadvantages of Muslims, among other issues, although the Modi-led government has said minorities in the state were robustly benefiting from its policies.
“There are some problem with dates and availability, so the final schedule has not be drawn up. But the meeting is on,” Habibullah told HT.
The watchdog is likely to engage the Gujarat government on two major issues: the state’s decision to shun a national scholarship scheme for minorities and rehabilitation of survivors of the 2002 riots.
The Modi-led government has been skipping the federally offered scholarship scheme—letting central funds to lapse— on the ground that Gujarat had its own scholarship programme that targets all school-going children equally, regardless of religion.
The matter had reached the Gujarat high court, where the state government opposed minorities-only scholarships on principles of “equality”.
In March 2009, when the high court upheld the national scholarships as constitutional, the Modi government told the court that Gujarat had a scholarship scheme for minorities since 1979 and therefore it need not adopt the national version of it.
The minorities-only scholarship stems from the high-level Sachar Commission, which probed disadvantages faced by Muslims, India’s largest minority. Its findings say Muslims fare well below most other groups on a clutch of socio-economic indicators, including education and employment.