India's National Commission for Minorities (NCM) demands reversal of Gujarat Government decision

Zee News, Sept 20, 2006

New Delhi,  India -- A day after Gujarat government passed a controversial amendment to include Jains and Buddhists as part of Hindu community, the move evoked sharp reactions here with national commission for minorities demanding a reversal of the decision and concerned community leaders seeking "freedom of identity".

"The commission would urge the government to re-examine the matter as it effects the rights of a religious minority." NCM officials said adding the commission has already received representations from the Buddhist organisations in the matter.

Describing the passing of the amendment by the Gujarat assembly as a "matter of great concern", the commission demanded an immediate reversal of the decision.

BJP government in Gujarat yesterday passed an amendment in the Gujarat freedom of religion act clubbing Jainism and Buddhism with Hinduism.

Intimidated by the move by Gujarat government, Buddhist parliamentary forum said "Buddhism is one of the great religions of the world and has its adherence in many lands."

"Any move to impinge upon the distinct identity of Buddhism and its adherents would have ramifications that are best avoided" informed Lama Sodpa, leader of the forum, told media persons here.

Calling an emergency meeting on the issue, All India Digambar Jain Mahasabha said it will launch a protest against the move.

"Any government, as per there convenience and agenda cannot afford to curb our right of a religious identity." N K Jain, president of All India Digamber Jain Mahasabha, said.

The Jain Mahasabha has also written a letter to Gujarat Governor Naval Kishore Sharma to intervene in the matter and stop the state government from going ahead with any such move.

All India Confederation of SC/ST organisations has also reacted sharply to the move and has asked the state government to maintain right to religious freedom of an individual.

"Every religion has its distinct identity. Religions like Buddhism and Jainism, have its origin dating back to more than two millennium and this fact can in no way be negated." Confederation chairman Udit Raj said.

Incidently, one such statement by a top RSS leader few years back suggesting Sikhs as a part of the Hindu fold had evoked widespread protest across the country.