Minorities panel chief says recent clashes not communal, blames ‘criminal elements’

Iqbal Singh Lalpura, chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities, has said that none of the recent clashes in the country were “communal in nature’’ but stray incidents involving “criminal elements”.

A statement issued by the chairperson’s office on Wednesday, however, said the “commission has taken prompt action on all communal clashes/issues in the country viz. incident [sic] in Patiala, Jodhpur and Bhopal’’. It also said the commission had sought reports from chief secretaries of the states concerned.

“On 13th April, 2022, NCM called for reports from Chief Secretaries of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, West Bengal and Bihar on a representation of Aftab Ahmed regarding growing atrocities on minorities. A report has been received from Govt of West Bengal, wherein the matter was forwarded to the DGP, West Bengal, for investigating the matter. Reports from Govt of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Bihar are still awaited,’’ said the statement.

But when contacted, Lalpura told The Indian Express, “India is a big country and all the minorities are progressing here, not only monetarily but also the population of minorities is increasing. None of the recent clashes have been communal– whether it was Patiala,
Jahangirpur or even Jodhpur. The Patiala clashes were not between two communities, but a group of people on both sides who wanted to disturb the peace. Similarly, when an NCM delegation visited Jahangirpuri, where the police acted decisively and suffered injuries, a small group of people had clashed. The residents told me they had always lived there in peace. This conspiracy should be unearthed, and those trying to create trouble should be arrested and punished. There was a similar pattern in Jodhpur as well. None of these were communal, but involved a group of criminal elements,’’ said Lalpura.

On the loudspeaker controversy, Lalpura said, “Azaan must be there. But there is also an issue of noise pollution. And my personal belief is that the law of the land must be followed irrespective of the religious community and that loudspeakers should be banned whether they are at a religious places or markets, restaurants or anywhere else.’’

“As far as minorities feeling insecure [is concerned], the commission is there to protect them. And to ensure their educational and economic progress,’’he said.

The chairperson said that from April 13 to May 2, the commission received 123 petitions, out of which nine have been disposed of and reports have been called for in 18 others.

The commission received 2,076 petitions in 2021-22, of which 1,492 were disposed of; 1,463 cases in 2020-21, of which 1,272 cases were disposed of; and 1670 cases in 2019-2020, of which 1,600 cases were disposed of.

The commission also monitors various schemes of the minority affairs ministry. According to Lalpura, in 2021-22, out of 86,01,023 applicants, 56,50,832 were granted pre-matric scholarships. And out of 19,47,411 applicants, 7,03,346 were granted post-matric scholarships in the same period, he added.


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