07/06/2009, 00.00
INDIA
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Inquiry into confessional polarisation a pretext against religious minorities

by Nirmala Carvalho
Gujarat has set up a commission of inquiry to study state-wide demographic shifts. Jesuit priest slams the exercise as a way to sow divisions and discriminate against minorities.

Delhi (AsiaNews) – The commission of inquiry into the changing demographic profile of Gujarat since independence is only a pretext against religious minorities, this according to Cedric Prakash, director of the Prashant Jesuit Centre for Human Rights. In his view the State government is pursuing a “communal agenda” to polarise the population and discriminate on the “basis of religion”.

In Gujarat, a state that was the scene of past anti-Christian and anti-Muslim violence, the chief minister, Narendra Modi, appointed a commission of inquiry to look into the spatial shifts of religious minorities on a ten-year basis over the period that began with Independence (15 August 1947) until today.

According to Father Cedric (pictured), a human rights activist, the commission on the pretext of studying the polarisation of the State’s population along confessional lines will end up negatively affecting religious minorities and fuel the fear of minorities who suffered at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists.

In fact Christians in 1998-1999 and Muslims in 2002 were attacked by extremists close to the State government.

Even today “minorities in Gujarat continue to be victims of overt and subtle intimidations, harassment and attacks,” the Jesuit priest said.

In the past the State set up another commission to look at confessional affiliation, he noted. Like that one, the one just set up should be rejected.

“The government of Gujarat should be concerned that each citizen of the State is treated with respect and dignity, enjoying the same rights and liberties guaranteed by the constitution, rather than fuel tensions,” he said. 

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