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?PM not appeasing minorities?

india Updated: Dec 24, 2006 17:01 IST

NATIONAL COMMISSION for Minorities member Harcharan Singh Josh has said it was a totally false perception that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh or the Congress Party was trying to appease minorities with the Justice Sachar Committee report.

Josh who was in the City on Saturday told reporters the hue and cry being raised over the issue was wholly unnecessary as it was for Parliament to decide the manner in which the report would be implemented and individual leaders or parties had no role to play in it.

Pointing out that Muslims comprised a major chunk of 20 crore people living below poverty line (BPL) in the country, Josh said it was for the first time since Independence that a sincere effort had been made for the uplift of minorities. “Many committees have been formed since Independence on different issues, but most of them have become victim of politics,” he said.

“The Sachar Committee was formed to identify social, economic, educational status of minorities and the motive was not to pamper them but social upliftment,” he asserted.

Josh said after Independence there was a consensus of opinion that special efforts were needed to uplift Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes in the country and similarly a need was now being felt to uplift minorities, particularly the deprived section.

Another misunderstood effort, he said, was the revised 15-point programme for minorities presented by the Prime Minister earlier this year. “It was not a directive but a set of guidelines to the State Governments which among other things says that deprived sections of minorities should be given jobs in public sector undertakings and paramilitary forces.”

Josh lamented that red-tapisim was causing delay in distribution of compensation to 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims in some of the States. “The Prime Minister has earmarked Rs 715 crore for 1984 riot victims on the basis of reports received by various State Governments, but any compensation loses its meaning if delayed beyond a certain period,” he said.

In Madhya Pradesh, maximum damage to property in 1984 riots was reported from Indore with losses estimated at Rs 9.5 crore. Josh said 682 out of 885 victims have been given compensation in the City.

“A six-member committee of Sikhs has been formed, which in association with Gurudwara Prabandhak Samiti and the District Magistrate will identify and distribute the money to the remaining victims,” he said adding that he has urged the committee to speed up the compensation work.

Meanwhile, Indore district riot victims’ relief and rehabilitation committee secretary Amriksingh Saini handed over a memorandum to Harcharan Singh Josh demanding action against one Dr R S Makhija for alleged misappropriation of funds meant for compensation of riot victims. The committee also urged Josh to ask the district administration to give another chance to victims who have been denied compensation to file claims.