By Purushottam Nayak
Bhubaneswar: As many as 25 social and human rights activists and leaders from different religious minority groups participated in Google meet, initiating median campaign on establishing a Minority Commission in Odisha state two days ago.
“We are doing a social media campaign to reach out our needs and necessities to the administration of the state as a minority,” said Jugal Kishore Ranjit, a social activist, based in Bhubaneswar.
In the absence of the Minority Commission in Odisha, the minorities are deprived of due rights of participating in employment, in higher education and decision-making bodies, continued Ranjit.
“COVID-19 protocol does not allow everyone to come together physically. So we have taken this initiative of social media campaign through emails, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, hashtags, and YouTube, establishing Minority Commission in Odisha,” he said.
People who are advocating the cause of establishing the Minority Commission in Odisha, are also the administrators and facilitators of the `United Minority Forum,’ a newly constituted body that includes all the minority religious groups.
“May Odisha government fulfill its promises and commitments for the welfare of the minority communities by assisting financial support for the development of schools and colleges, creating exclusive residential facilities for the minority students in minority-dominated areas, immediate steps to take for the establishment of the Commission for Minorities Welfare,” pleads Divya Hruday, a national member of Evangelical Fellowship of India.
Hrudya, Bishop of Balasore, Evangelical and Independent group and convener of United Minority Forum, said that the government needs to provide jobs and religious security of the minority, to recruit teachers to spread minority languages such as Telugu, Bengali, and Urdu and books to be provided, aiding scholarship to poor minority students, financial assistance to meritorious minority students qualifying for national institutes for pursuing the studies.
The government is to bring all institutions and programs meant for minority welfare such as Waqf Board, Haj committee, and 15 points Prime minister’s program under the Department of Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare to ensure single-window access points for the minorities, he said.
“For the last 22 years, we have been fighting for this noble cause to establish Minority Commission in Odisha. There is certainly political and administrative power to adhere to the grievances, unemployment of youth issues, minority rights, schemes of government, the plight of about 45 lakh minority people in the state,” said Sayeed Barkat Ali Tanveer, co-convener.
Odisha does not have a minority budget like other states by which minority people would have benefited. This is another initiative and movement through social media to reach out voices 45 lakh minority people to the government, he said.
“Social media is the faster way to reach out to our demands,” stated Jhansirani Singh, a young human rights activist, based in Bhubaneswar.
The government of Odisha keeps all the data on social media. Twitting and rewriting the same message by different persons can influence more people, she said.
“The Union government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Initially, five religious communities, viz., Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Janis have been notified in the Gazette of India as minority communities by the Union Government all over India. As many as 18 states in India have Minority Commission” affirmed Father Ajaya Singh, a human rights activist.
Indian constitution has provided constitutional safeguards and fundamental rights to Minorities according to Article 29(1), 30(1), and Article (2), cited Singh, an India Minority Commission awardee in 2013.
About 100 emails within one day have been sent by the social activists, human rights activists and like-minded leaders and people of Odisha to email@example.com (Chief Minister of Odisha Office email ID), demanding the constitution of Minority Commission.