A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking minority status for Hindus in eight states where the number of the community has fallen down, according to the Census 2011. The PIL was filed by Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwnani Kumar Upadhyay. The PIL states, “According to 2011 Census, Hindus are monitory in eight States i.e. Lakshadweep (2.5%), Mizoram (2.75%), Nagaland (8.75%), Meghalaya (11.53%), J&K (28.44%), Arunachal Pradesh (29%), Manipur (31.39%) and Punjab (38.40%).”
The PIL further states that due to the majority population in such states, the Hindus are unable to enjoy their rights. The petitioner prayed to declare Hindus as a minority in these eight states.
What is the population of Hindus and other minority communities in these eight states?
The population data on the basis of religious communities is derived from the Census 2011. Census 2011 provides population data of five minority communities, except the Zoroastrians (Parsis) and states two other categories as ‘other religions and persuasions’ and ‘religion not stated’.
Lakshadweep: Of the total population of 64473, Muslims are in majority with 62,268. Hindus make up a sizable population of 1788. Whereas other minority communities i.e. Christian (317), Buddhist (10), Jain (11) and Sikh (8) fall behind.
Mizoram: A Christian dominated state, the total population of Mizoram is 1,097,206, out of which 956,331 are Christians. Second in line are 93,411 Buddhists, then Hindus (30,136), Muslims (14,832), Jain (376), Sikh (286).
Nagaland: Out of the total population of 1978502, Hindus are 173054 in number having the second highest population in the state after Christians comprising 1,739,651. The number of rest of the communities are Muslims (48,963), Buddhists (6,759), Jain (2,655) and Sikh (1890).
Meghalaya: Christians (2,213,027) make up the majority out of the total population of 2,966,889. Population of other communities are Hindus (342,078), Muslims (130,399), Buddhist (9,864), Sikh (3,045) and Jain (627) fall behind in numbers.
Jammu and Kashmir: Having a total population of 12,541,302, Muslims form the majority population (8,567,485) and Hindus form the other part of the primary population of 356,6674. Sikh (234848), Buddhist (112584), Christians (35631) and Jains (2490) form rest of the population.
Arunachal Pradesh: A Christian-Hindu dominated State, 418,732 Christians and 401,876 Hindus form the land out of the total population of 1,383,727. Buddhists (162,815), Muslims (27,045), Sikh (3,287) and Jain (771) form the remaining part of the state.
Manipur: The state has a population of 2,855,794. Hindus form the majority with 1,181,876, while Christians are 1,179,043 in number. Muslims (239,836), Buddhists (7,084), Jain (1,692) and Sikh (1,527) are the minority communities in the state.
Punjab: Sikhs (16,004,754) form the majority in a population of 27,743,338. Hindus (10,678,138), Muslims (535,489), Christians (348,230), Jain (45,040) and Buddhist (33,237) form the rest of the population.
How does a community get a minority status?
The Indian Constitution nowhere defines a community as a minority. However, it mentions the conservation of minorities on the basis of language and religion. Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution talks about the freedom of establishment of educational institutions by minorities and non-discrimination of minorities in admission to educational institutions.
Acknowledging the religious and educational autonomy of minorities, the Constitution did not specify the minorities explicitly, until 1992 when a legislation was drawn for the welfare of minorities. The National Commission of Minorities Act, 1992 provided a statutory backing to the Central minorities commission, set up in 1978. Section 2(c) of the Act defines a “minority” as “a community notified as such by the Central government”. In 1993 through a government notification, Centre declared five communities as minorities i.e. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis). After protests by the Jain community and debate in the Commission, Jains too were added to the list in 2014 through an Official Gazette rounding up to six minority communities.
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