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Published in the 16-31 May 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

"Communal riots localised": Tarlochan Singh

The Milli Gazette Online

New Delhi: Chairman of National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Tarlochan Singh, who is also a member of Rajya Sabha, was in Lahore to participate in a three-day World Punjabi Congress during April 16-18.

Replying to the queries of journalists there, he said that Indian Muslims are the most backward community and they are lagging behind almost in all walks of life especially in the educational field. Muslim women are in the most pitiable condition. The main reason behind the backwardness of Muslims is that they prefer to send their children to madrasas set up in every village instead of those schools which impart modern education, he said. The Christians in the country are only 1.75 crore but they are the most educated community and the country’s 13% educational institutions are being run by Christian organisations.
Regarding communal riots, Tarlochan Singh said that religious riots in India are localised and such occurrences are not visible at the national level. The Gujarat riots had also occurred in Ahmedabad city and its adjoining areas only. The NCM had taken cognizance of all the happenings.

About Khalistan movement he said that the movement had caused great harm to Sikhs as during the movement 34,000 Sikhs were killed, thousands were wounded, went underground or fled to other countries. Thousands of Sikhs were punished during the movement and are still behind bars. Three million Sikhs have migrated from India and settled in other countries.

The Indian people have accepted the fact that Pakistan is separate and independent country and that it is not possible to remove the borders between the two countries. However, he emphasised the need for more facilities for the movement of the people between the two countries.

Sikhs want that they should be provided the maximum opportunity to visit Pakistan as the maximum number of their religious places are in Pakistan. There are innumerable Gurudwaras in Pakistan and there will be a big rush of Sikh pilgrims if they are restored. 

The only solution to the longstanding disputes of the two countries is interaction between the people of the two countries and reciprocation of noble sentiments from both sides, he said.
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