In a significant development, the state governments of Andhra Pradesh and Karnakata have notified Sikhs as a minority community.
The move will enable Sikhs in these states to avail the benefits granted under the Prime Minister's new 15-point programme for the welfare of minority groups.
"The National Commission for Minorities recently got a letter from the governments of both these states that Sikhs have been designated as minority groups," member of the Commission Harcharan Singh Josh said.
This will enable the Sikhs in these states to also avail Rs two-and-a-half million worth scholarships for minority students in class X and XII.
"The issue had been under deliberation with both Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for more than a year," Josh said.
Under the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992, five religious communities namely Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Zoroastrians and Buddhists were notified as minority communities.
As per the 2001 census, these five religious minority communities constituted 18.42 per cent of the country's population.
In line of the Act, the state governments were expected to notify the said religious groups as minorities.
"But not all the state governments granted minority status to these religious groups. Thus the commission considers the development in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as heartening," he said.
Recently the Supreme Court had ruled Sikhs not to be a minority in Punjab.