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Now Khurshid terms clerics' fears on RTE and Wakf Acts 'far-fetched'

Monday, July 26, 2010 06:56:27 PM, & Agencies

Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid

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New Delhi: A day after HRD Minister Kapil Sibal allayed the fears of the Muslim clerics over Right to Education Act, Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid described their apprehensions on the Act as 'the fear of the unknown'. He also termed their objections on the Waqf Amendment Bill 2010 as misplaced and misinformed.

"I don't think it is against Muslims. That can never be the intention of our government. I think, there is a fear of the unknown. It is being speculated that there could be consequences that are detrimental," Khurshid said.

The minister maintained that "there was no question at all of undermining the Madarsa education or undermining Article 29 and Article 30" and added that "if there were certain concerns, we we will address them."

Both the articles relate to the protection of minority rights with the latter entitling a religious or linguistic minority to establish and administer educational institution of its choice.

The Jamiatul-Ulema-e-Hind had recently threatened to oppose the RTE with full vigor, describing the Act as against fundamental rights and demanded exemption of schools run by religious and linguistic minorities from its provisions.

Besides Jamiatul-Ulema-e-Hind, few other Muslim organisations including All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) too had expressed their reservations over both the Act. They underlined threats of closure and penalties under the RTE Act to minority institutions and urged them to organise themselves at district and state levels.

Khurshid, however, appeared confident that the government will be able to address these concerns and the human resources development (HRD) ministry headed by Kapil Sibal will take necessary steps.

"I don't think anyone has questioned our motive. Sibal is cognisant of the concerns that have been expressed. I am sure he will do whatever is necessary and take the required steps. He is already in touch with those groups," he said.

Khurshid said his ministry has also forwarded some representations to the HRD ministry. He said that he along with Sibal will be attending some of the meetings called by these groups over the next few days, which will enable them to get a complete picture.


Interestingly, objections on RTE Act are not limited to the Muslim community alone, they are also being raised from some non-Muslim circles as well. In fact, recently there came the reports that bowing to the strong lobby that runs residential schools, the government is already contemplating amendments in the RTE Act.


'Apprehensions on Wakf Act far-fetched'

Khurshid also dismissed the contention of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board that the amendment in the Wakf act making the registration of wakf properties mandatory can affect Muslims's claims on Babri Masjid, saying such apprehension was misplaced and misinformed.

The minister, who had a meeting with the representatives of the AIMPLB a few days back on the issue, wondered that no one pushed for the issue in the meeting and instead came out with a wish-list seeking more features in the amended Wakf Act.

"I met them (AIMPLB representatives). The so-called apprehension was misplaced, misinformed and was not even pushed by anyone. But they expressed their desire and request to have more features (in the Wakf Act)," Khurshid said, adding that, "whatever can be accommodated will be accommodated".

"They had a wish list. We will have to see whether it can be accommodated now or at the later stages. After all, there is cost benefit analysis in everything. We will tell them that if we can't do it now we will do it later," he said.

Khurshid, however, felt that these issues should have been raised earlier when the joint parliamentary committee (JPC) was looking into the issue of wakf reforms.

"If the JPC report was found inadequate by the stakeholders, they should have come a little more aggressively at that point of time instead of coming after the bill is passed by one house of the Parliament," he said.

Asked about the AIMPLB's contention that the amendment will affect Muslims' claim on Babri mosque as it was not registered, Khurshid said, "There is no such issue. There is no point into it. This is not a problem at all. They were misinformed and were not even raising it."

He said the Masjid property is already registered and hence "whoever was raising it were doing it for extraneous reasons or were doing it for lack of information."

When pointed that some Muslim MPs have met prime minister Manmohan Singh over the issue, Khurshid said that they had met him as well.

"They met the prime minister and said something to him. I met them and showed them that what they were saying was wrong. If they had taken me there, I would have told them in front of the PM that they were wrong," Khurshid said.




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