NDA will revive the programme that was put on back-burner by the UPA-II

New Delhi : The Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) to look after rights of the religious minorities that was planned during UPA-I government, but then put on back-burner may soon become a reality as Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah has put it on the top of her priorities.

Though its constitution was cleared by the union cabinet of the erstwhile UPA-II government in February to woo the Muslim voters, but no further action was taken to get it functioning. Heptullah has, therefore, asked her ministry officials to prepare a fresh proposal for taking it to the cabinet.

Constitution of EOC as a statutory body was recommended by the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee set up as a high-level body by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh eight years ago to go into the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community. The committee laid stress on the need for such a commission to check discrimination of the minority communities and it takes care of equal access to opportunities, entitlements and rights to the deprived groups of the minority communities.

She said, “As a majority community among the minorities in India, the Muslims lag behind and the focus of the ministry is mainly to empower them with education and skills.”

In this regard, she said the EOC can play a critical role in the upliftment of the Muslim community, which is so far feeling ignored. “The commission will provide them a level-playing field and enhance their employability and their status in the society.” She has asked officials to have provisions in the EOC to deal with the minorities” grievances like denials of accommodation and right to buy flats in the housing societies, sources said.

They pointed out that the ruling BJP had pledged in its poll manifesto also to strive for the “equal opportunity” to the minorities through their social and economic empowerment to help, specially the Muslim community that continues to be stymied in poverty. Though the manifesto is silent on EOC, it said: “Modern India must be a nation of equal opportunity. BJP is committed to ensure all communities are equal partners in India progress, as we believe India cannot progress if any segment of Indians is left behind.” It promised them education and jobs without discrimination.

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