In addition to offering a number of cultural items depicting various minority communities, learned speakers shed light on minority rights in the national and international perspectives and also shed light on violation of minority rights in India. Leaders of various minority communities were also felicitated at the event.
The three members of the Delhi Minorities Commission, chairman Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, Kartar Singh Kochhar (Sikh) and Anastasia Gill (Christian) were present on the occasion.
Teams from two churches in Delhi recited the National Anthem and offered songs about the birth of Jesus Christ, children of Dr Zakir Husain Memorial Higher Secondary School offered Allama Iqbal’s Sare Jahan se achha Hindustan hamara while a team of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Vidya Kendra recited Shabad Kirtan in praise of the One Creator who created all.
Among those felicitated on the occasion were Jain Acharya Dr Lokesh Muni for his contribution to society and country and campaign against social evils and preaching of non-violence. Giani Ranjit Singh, a leading figure of the Sikh community in Delhi was honoured for his contribution to the community. Catholic head of the Church of North India was felicitated for his work to eliminate disparity and inequality faced by marginalised communities.
Chief Guest Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, was the chief guest but he could not make it due to some urgent party work. In his absence, Avtar Singh Kalka, MLA, explained the government’s work for the minorities and reiterated the Kejriwal government’s commitment to upholding minority rights in Delhi.
Speaking on minority rights, human rights activist and advocate M. Salar Khan enlightened the audience about the provision of rights to minorities in the Indian Constitution and laws and said that our laws are better than the provisions of the international laws for minorities. He offered an overview of Articles of the Indian Constitution which safeguard the religious, cultural, and linguistic rights of minorities and said that these provisions were further augmented by amendments during the Janata Party government in mid-seventies and by the National Commission for Minorities Act in 1992. He concluded by remarking that a country’s minority is represents the beauty and strength of its society.
Christian scholar Dr Vinod CV recounted the violations of minority rights in India. He enumerated several grave instances, including the anti-Sikh massacre of 1984, Gujarat riots of 2002 and the Kandhamal riots of 2007 as well as the most recent anti-Christian riots in Satna. He said that a lot is yet to be done to protect minority rights in India.
Professor ZM Khan, a political scientist, offered a general review of the recent past and the present situation of minority rights violation, focusing on the Indian Muslim experience. Sikh scholar Harpal Singh elaborated on the duties and rights of minorities.
A book on Delhi Minorities Commissions’ vision and mandate as well Central and State schemes for minorities was released on the occasion. This book is available free of charge from the commission’s office and can be downloaded by clicking www.m-g.in/dmc-
The function was well-attended by dignitaries of various minority communities in Delhi including representatives of Jain, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, and Muslim faiths and political leaders. DMC chairman announce on the occasion that a conference will be held in February on minority rights during which a book on minority rights will be release to elaborate these rights in the national and international perspectives.