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Sikh News Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka Give Minority Status To Sikhs

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Sikh News Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka Give Minority Status To Sikhs

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NEW DELHI: Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have granted minority status to Sikh populations, with a view to extending benefits to the community under the Prime Minister's new 15-point programme for minorities.

National Commission for Minorities member Harcharan Singh Josh said the commission had "recently got a letter from the governments of both AP and Karnataka that Sikhs have been designated as minority groups".

The move will enable Sikhs in these states to access benefits for minority communities under various schemes including those outlined by the much touted new 15-point programme. Chiranjiv Singh, former additional chief secretary of Karnataka, said, "The Sikh population in the state is small, the minority status will help poor members educationally. It will especially help Sikhligar and Banjara Sikhs, most of who are below poverty line."

Yusuf Qureshi, chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Minorities Commission, said, "The national commission had in a meeting two months ago passed a resolution to provide benefits to te Sikhs in the state in areas of housing, education and financial assistance for business ventures."

The move will enable Sikhs in these states to also avail scholarships for minority students in class X and XII. Josh added that state governments have powers to notify minority community in their states through gazette notification. "The issue had been under deliberation with both Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for more than a year," Josh said.

Under the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992, five religious communities — Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Zoroastrians and Buddhists — were notified as minority communities. As per the 2001 census, these five religious minority communities constituted 18.42% of the country's population.

In line with the NCM Act, the state governments were expected to notify the said religious groups as minorities through gazette notifications.

"The state governments have been given powers to grant minority status to religious groups. But not all the states came forward to grant minority status to these religious groups. The commission considers the steps taken by Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as heartening," Josh said.

Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka give minority status to Sikhs-India-The Times of India
 

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