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'Christians a minority among minorities'

'Christians a minority among minorities'

Author: Statesman News Service
Publication: The Statesman
Date: January 14, 2009

Bangiya Christiya Pariseba, the apex body of Christians in West Bengal, have lodged a complaint with the National Commission for Minorities, claiming that both Centre and state authorities place more importance on the Muslim community, while Christians are treated as "a minority among minorities".

In a letter written to the chairman of the commission two days ago, Bangiya Christiya Pariseba complained that the members of the state minority commission do not have enough power to protect the rights of minority communities. As a result of this impotence, the smaller minority communities, including Christians, are unable to exercise their minority rights and priviledges.

According to the census, there are around 10 lakh Christians in the state, around 90 per cent of whom reside in rural Bengal. Almost the entire population is Bengali-speaking. However, there are no Christian representatives in the state minority commission. In addition, Bangiya Christiya Pariseba claimed in their letter that the census is flawed, suggesting that there are significantly more Christians in the state than the figures suggest. The letter points to the careless manner in which such surveys are conducted, highlighting the fact that officials often list Christians as Hindus, basing their assumptions solely on the basis of Bengali names and surnames. It was further alleged that Christians under the OBC category are harassed and denied OBC certificates.

The Bangiya Christiya Pariseba also claimed that a good portion of the publicised welfare programmes for minorities are not fully or properly implemented. For example, the state government offers various scholarship schemes for students, but around 10,000 candidates are yet to receive any response to their applications, even though the current academic session is scheduled to end within a few months.

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