The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and several organisations representing minorities came together on Friday to counter an onslaught on religious freedom by the ruling BJP and affiliated groups.
The AIMPLB and groups such as the Buddhist Society of India and Lingayat community unveiled a common minimum programme and announced they will launch a nationwide movement to create awareness about the curbing of religious freedom and attacks on secularism.
“The past one-and-a-half years have seen efforts to disturb the basic fundamentals of the Constitution. The state cannot force things like surya namaskar and Vande Mataram on people,” AIMPLB leader Kamal Faruqui told a news briefing at the Press Club in Delhi.
Problems of all minorities, including Buddhists, Christians and Lingayats, had increased since the BJP-led government assumed office, Faruqui and other leaders said.
AC Michael, a former member of the Delhi Minorities Commission, said the groups were concerned that churches were being attacked “day in and day out” while those responsible for such incidents are still at large.
Important days such as Christmas were being undermined by being declared a “good governance day” and this is “nothing but humiliation” of Christians, he said. Lingayat leader Jaya Mruthyunjaya Mahaswami said his community, declared a minority in the pre-Independence ear, has been “wrongly treated as part of the Hindu community”.
He added: “The Lingayat community should be declared as a separate minority.” Faruqui said it was regrettable that “fringe elements” were trying to compel minorities to adhere to a particular ideology.
“Surya namaskar, Vande Mataram and Bhagwat Gita have been incorporated in the syllabus and made an integral part of education by prejudiced think tanks,” he said.
The groups said their common minimum programme is aimed at protecting the Constitution and its core values of secularism, justice and equality.
It will also maintain “the scientific temper and secular character of the curriculum and education system and try to fight against any direct or surreptitious effort to alter it”.
The programme will oppose every intervention meant to deprive minorities of liberty of faith and measures that weaken the state’s duty to promote the welfare of the poor.