Minority, Dalit, tribal bodies oppose UCC; worry it may lead to scrapping of reservations

“Under the garb of removing discrimination, they will then move to scrap reservation,” said leaders of SC, ST, religious minority groups, warning that the proposed UCC was a threat to Constitutional rights

July 27, 2023 04:30 am | Updated 04:30 am IST - NEW DELHI

Muslim, Christian, and Sikh communities have joined hands with the All India Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation, and the Confederation of Dalit and Tribal Organisations to oppose any moves toward introducing a Uniform Civil Code.

Calling it part of the larger ‘Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan’ project, these groups expressed their fears that the UCC will eventually lead to scrapping of reservations for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. At a meeting in the capital on Wednesday, these bodies “unanimously resolved” that the “Government of India should not interfere with the traditions, customs and religious practices of various communities”.

“The one nation, one law view is a pernicious attempt to intervene in the social and religious affairs of various communities,” said S.Q.R. Ilyas, convenor of the Committee for Protection of Religious and Cultural Diversities.

The tribal, backward and minority leaders called the proposed UCC “a threat” to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. They emphasised the Constitutional guarantees and protections given to Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Areas under Article 371, and urged the government not to tamper with these safeguards.

The leaders were apprehensive of the proposal, and considered it a step towards removal of reservations for the SCs, STs and OBCs. “Under the garb of removing discrimination, they will then move to scrap reservation,” Mr. Ilyas said.

The minority and tribal leaders also sought to safeguard the country’s federal structure. “The idea of India, enshrined in the Constitution of the country, will be in danger. Their aim is to establish the dream project of Hindu Rashtra based on Manu Smriti, with their pet slogan ‘Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan’,” they said, in a joint statement.

The Dalit, tribal and minority members pledged to “protect religious, cultural and all fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution” and “oppose the design of the government and collectively reject the Uniform Civil Code”.

Joining hands to protect the life and property of every citizen, they vowed to “prevent desecration of religious books and places of worship and protect the churches, mosques, gurdwaras and other religious places from being burnt or destroyed”.

Significantly, they also opposed the move calling for an amendment to the Places of Worship Act. “We will prevent all attempts to illegally occupy the places of worship of other groups and demand that the Places of Worship Act-1991 be implemented in letter and spirit,” Mr. Ilyas said.

The meeting was attended by Jagmohun, convenor, Sikh Personal Law Board; Sadatullah Husaini, vice president, All India Muslim Personal Law Board; Salim Engineer, vice president, Jamaat-e-Islami Hin; A.C. Michael, president, Federation of Catholic Associations of Archdiocese of Delhi; R. Sukhdev Waghmare, head, All India Ravidasiya Dharam Sangathan; Waman Meshram, president, All India Backwards and Minority Communities Employees Federation; and Ashok Bharti, president, Confederation of Dalit and Tribals Organisations, among others.

They pledged to “uphold the federal and plural structure of the country”, adding, “We pledge that we shall strive to ensure peace, safety and security, justice and a dignified life for every citizen of the country. We shall strive to end all forms of injustice, discrimination and harassment.”

Taking note of the prevailing situation in Manipur, the meeting condemned the polarisation of the Meiteis and Kukis in the State and urged the government to take effective steps to ensure peace in the region without compromising the rights of the tribals.

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