Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Monday blamed a “mourning brigade” for painting a picture of gloom among minorities, stressing that they were not in an “atmosphere of fear”, but of trust. The Minority Affairs minister, elevated to the Cabinet rank on Sunday, reiterated that the government would focus on the empowerment of minority communities by providing them with education and employment opportunities.
Minister of state for Minority Affairs, Virendra Kumar, who accompanied Naqvi, said the Centre would ensure empowerment “sans appeasement”. “There is no atmosphere of fear prevailing in the country among minorities. Rather, there is an atmosphere of trust among them,” Naqvi told reporters in New Delhi. A ‘vilaap mandali’ (mourning brigade) was propagating the view about fear, he said, without specifying who he was referring to.
Naqvi said the minorities had full faith in the government for the work it was doing for their “uplift”. “You have seen they blamed EVMs when they lost (assembly) polls (in Uttar Pradesh and other states), when demonetisation happened and now again when the council of ministers has been re-jigged,” he said in a veiled attack on the opposition.
On the issue of triple talaq, Naqvi said the practice of instant divorce was a social ill at variance with the principle of gender equality as mentioned in the Constitution. “Our government works within the framework of the Constitution…The Supreme Court has already given its verdict on the issue. We welcome that,” he added.
The apex court had on August 22 banned the 1,400 year-old practice of instant ‘triple talaq’ among Sunni Muslims and set it aside on several grounds including that it was against the basic tenets of the Quran. Naqvi reiterated that the government believed in empowering the poor and minorities with “dignity” and that welfare schemes were being implemented for them. On his part, Kumar lauded the initiatives taken by the ministry till now, particularly those relating to skill development among minorities.
He attributed the allegations on the “atmosphere of fear” to trepidation caused among opposition parties because of the BJP’s poll victories over them. “The opposition is scattered and is not in a position to challenge Modiji. That’s why such allegations,” he added.