PM

Gandhinagar, February 9: JUSTICE Rajindar Sachar, the chairman of the prime minister’s high-level committee, has taken strong exception to the Gujarat government’s statement that the committee agreed with Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s view that the programmes being implemented for the uplift of people should not be evaluated from the perspective of minorities.

In a signed rejoinder (to the government’s statement) issued on Thursday, Sachar said: ‘‘The committee has noted the news report published in Express Newsline, Ahmedabad, on February 9. The report quotes a statement issued by the Government of Gujarat saying that the committee agreed with the chief minister’s view that the programmes implemented for the uplift of the people should not be evaluated from the perspective of the minorities. The committee strongly denies that it agreed with any such perspective.’’

The government had issued a statement to the press immediately after Sachar and other committee members had an hour-long meeting with Modi and his ministerial colleagues in Gandhinagar on Wednesday, where Modi stated that he had always cared only about the development and interest of the ‘‘five crore Gujaratis’’.

Quoting Modi, the statement had said his government had never discriminated (against the minority) while implementing various evelopmental and welfare schemes, and that ‘‘the mindset of looking at society from the minority-majority angle has caused immense damage to the country’’. The statement attributed to the Central committee agreeing to Modi’s views.

Sachar said on Thursday: ‘‘The chief minister has the prerogative to make claims about implementing various developmental and welfare schemes in his State, and also talk on behalf of the five crore Gujaratis.

But the government statement attributing to the PM’s high-level committee agreeing to the CM’s views has really upset us.’’

He said the committee had by now visited about a dozen states, including Gujarat, to collect all relevant data on social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community. ‘‘At the end of its visit to every state, the committee pays just a courtesy call to the chief minister of the state to share with him concerns of the people, and not to elicit any information or views from him. Our Wednesday meeting with the Gujarat CM was on similar lines,’’ the panel chief maintained.

Asked, Sachar said though officials of various government departments concerned had provided the committee with data on what they have been doing for the welfare of Muslims, the data was inadequate. ‘‘We have asked the government to provide us with sufficient data,’’ he said.

However, a senior committee member was more forthcoming, saying that the Modi Government had not handed over adequate data to the panel, despite the PMO having sent a detailed questionnaire to it about eight months ago. ‘‘We still need more data on Muslims’ status in areas such as education, employment, basic civic amenities, health and sanitation and safety and security,’’ he said.

During its four-day visit, the committee received representations from Muslim intelligentsia and different NGOs.

The committee will cover Maharashtra, Bihar and Jharkhand in the next few days and submit its report by June.

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