As part of three-day centenary celebrations from August 23 to 25, the AICU organised a national seminar on ‘Constitution and Minority Rights’ to take stock of the minority communities’ situation in the country under BJP-led Government.
Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — The recently passed controversial “triple talaq” law came under sharp criticism from the Christian leaders gathered in the National Capital on Saturday to celebrate the centenary year of All India Catholic Union (AICU).
They said the rights of minorities in the country are not safe as the constitution is under attack from the “vicious” communal forces of the country.
As part of three-day centenary celebrations from August 23 to 25, the AICU organised a national seminar on ‘Constitution and Minority Rights’ to take stock of the minority communities’ situation in the country since the BJP-led Government came to power.
In repudiation to the one nation-one language and one-religion theory propounded by the Hindutva groups, former Supreme Court judge Justice (Retd.) Joseph Kurian argued that India is not only a union of states but “union of various castes, cultures, religions and therefore every individual under the protection of the constitution has right to practice, preach and propagate his religion without fear.”
Delivering his keynote address at the seminar, Justice Kurian told the gathering to be always on alert and active in discharging their duties towards the nation by following the principles of justice and truth. As far as minorities are concerned, Articles 25, 29 and 30 matter the most.
Dr. John Dayal, the spokesperson of AICU, in his response to the keynote address expressed his apprehensions over the recent developments in the country and said there was always fear among the minorities that the government might bring about changes in the constitution to target them. He gave the examples of triple talaq and lynching of Muslims across the country which have caused a great stir among the minorities. He spoke about the tribals and dalits of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand where they are facing “inhuman” conditions as a result of the policies of the present government.
Echoing similar sentiments, Prof Achan Vanaik, former head of the Department of Political Science, Delhi University, said that there was fear among the minorities after the coming to power of the new government. Some of their decisions with regard to minorities are not only alarming but also threatening.
Severely criticising the legislation on triple talaq, he said, saying a civil matter cannot be turned into a criminal matter in any part of the world or in a democracy but this happened in India.
“Passing the triple talaq law, which criminalises Muslim men, ours must be the only democracy in the world to have indulged in this type of criminalisation of a civil marriage contract.”
Describing Indian democracy “flawed and weak”, he questioned the credo of secularism. Listing “pro- Hindu biases’ in the constitution, the learned professor said, “The country is named “Bharat Varsha” only to obliterate Muslim period, made Hindi official language instead of Urdu which has a pan-India presence and special status has been given to Sanskrit which is spoken by a few hundred people. He also pointed out that the constitution does not outlaw the caste system but only untouchability.
Advocate Tehmina Arora highlighted the atrocities perpetrated on Christians and Muslims and the failure of the criminal justice system in the country to deal with these. There are 160 cases of attacks on pastors and churches throughout the country this year itself.
Reposing her faith in the constitution of the country, she said the country can remain united only if there is no tampering of the constitution.
Another female speaker, advocate Tresa Paul, expressed her concern over the fact that politics is not revolving around social and economic issues but issues of communal polarisation such as ‘cow, cow slaughter, gau raksha etc. She felt the country is undergoing tremendous changes and there is fear and insecurity among the minorities. She also criticised the TT legislation saying without consulting the stakeholders, a law was passed that reflects present government’s fascist tendency.
The other two panelists, Advocate P I Jose and Dr. M P Raju, too voiced concern over the rights of minorities and said that the country must safeguard the interest of its minorities to project a better picture to the world otherwise the repercussion could be felt sooner than later. Rev.
The Christian leaders also criticised anti- conversion laws enacted by a host of BJP-ruled states.