Abdul Bari Masoud / Kolkata
Prominent, jurists, intellectuals and journalists have urged the Central government to pass the ‘Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011 with utmost urgency. They said that it was duty of the State to provide security and safety to minoritities who feel threatened because of communal and radical ‘Hindutva forces’ violent activities.
At a seminar, organized by the South Asian Minorities Lawyers Association (SAMLA),on the occasion of Minorities Rights Day here they demanded that SAARC must adopt a Convention for protection and promotion of minority rights in the region and set up special Tribunals/Courts at the district level for speedy trial of terror-related cases to tackle the menace of trans-boarder terrorism.
Veteran journalist and former Member of Parliament Ahmad Saeed Malehabadi said since this government came to power, minorities have been at the receiving end. On the pretext of ‘Love Jihad’, ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (forced conversion), cow slaughter and others minorities are being targeted with impunity, Malehabadi said in his presidential remarks.
The seminar on ‘Constitutional Values for Democracy in Pluralistic India’ has highlighted that India is signatory to a host of international convents on minorities’ rights but these are not being followed in letter and spirit.
SAMLA secretary general and noted lawyer Feroz Ahmad Khan Ghazi said minority communities feel that their religious, cultural, and linguistic identity is under threat. The present government’s move on triple talaq, Aligarh Muslim University’s minority character and other minority related issues have developed a sense of deprivation among Muslims which the largest minority group in the country, Ghazi said and added that it is not a good omen for a country which boasts to be the largest democracy and a secular nation.
Justice (Retd) Shyamal Kumar Sen, who inaugurated the seminar, remarked that minorities are an integral part of South Asian societies. Expressing concern over the plight of minorities in South Asia, Justice Sen said their presence in the societies is a boon for civilization and cultural advancement of these countries. The government must provide a conducive atmosphere for the protection of their religious, cultural, linguistic and other identities, Justice Sen said who was a former Governor of West Bengal and chairman of West Bengal State Minority Commission.
Noted lawyers Shahid Imam and Syed Amjad Ali, Vice Chancellor Prof (Dr) P. Ishwar Bhatt, former Advocate General of Tripura Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya and others also addressed the seminar.
Speakers were of the view that substantive democracy ensures fair participation of all segments of society, including minorities and the state and society understand the need and right of minorities to maintain their unique identity linguistic, cultural, religious, ethnic, or other identities. They also stressed the need for ensuring equality and equal protection of law for the entire minority communities
On the occasion, prominent social activist Mohammad Nisar Khan and veteran journalist Bhismbhar Newar were conferred with ‘SAMLA Harmony Award’ for their contribution in highlighting issues confronting to the Muslim minority in West Bengal.
Passing a number of resolutions, the SAMLA asked the SAARC countries to make a suitable domestic legislative framework for ensuring social, cultural and economic rights of the minorities in accordance with the internationally accepted norms and convents.