In its monthly press briefing at its headquarters, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) on December 10 expressed grave concern over the trend of falling human rights rankings noted by various international forums, the judiciary on religious conversion, and discontinuation of pre-matric scholarship. December 10 marks International Human Rights Day.

JIH Vice President, Mohammad Salim Engineer, while addressing the press conference, said, “India is ranked 150th out of 180 countries in the 20th annual World Press Freedom Index published in 2022. Reporters Without Borders publishes such figures every year. On the Rule of Law Index compiled by the World Justice Project (WJP) in 2022, India ranked 77 out of 140 countries. In categories like civil and criminal justice, security and basic rights, India’s ranking has been remarkably low. India should try to improve its ranking through justice, rule of law and governance.”

“The government should seriously consider the information and recommendations from our allies and partner nations. Making India a champion of human rights both at home and internationally should be the goal of all legislative and executive actions. By doing this, we will maintain the principles of our Constitution and advance democracy and the concept of civil liberties,” he said.

On religious conversion, the JIH leader said, “Petitions that claim there have been forced conversions of large numbers of people are politically motivated. There is no figure to support the claim and it is basically aimed at targeting minorities and designed for polarisation. The number of people converting from the faith to which they were born has not reached alarming proportions. Additionally, our legal system’s current procedures are adequate to address any such malpractices. There is no need for the states to enact another “anti-conversion” statute.

“Protecting the right to freedom of religion as guaranteed by the Constitution is of utmost importance. The liberties guaranteed to us by our Constitution cannot be compromised simply because of some irrational thought and concern that are not supported by factual information.”

The JIH also expresses grave concern over “the decision of the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs to discontinue the Pre-Metric Scholarship for students of Classes 1 to 8 from the minority community. The government’s position is that it is implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 which makes it obligatory for the Government to provide free and compulsory elementary education (classes I to VIII) to every child. The government is also justifying the move by saying that it wants to bring parity among students from SC, ST, and OBC communities who were getting pre-matric scholarships for Class IX and X only. So now, the minority students will also get scholarships for Class IX and X only from the 2022-23 academic session,” the Jamaat said.

Syed Tanveer Ahmed, JIH Secretary for Media Department and Director Markazi Taleemi Board, said, “In the guise of RTE and the goal of creating a level playing field for everyone, the government is denying the students who are members of the minority community of their legitimate rights. Minority students will be hampered throughout those important early academic years. This will raise their dropout rate and diminish their chances of having a successful academic career. Numerous studies have shown that minorities, particularly Muslims, do worse than average in both basic and higher education and scholarships have proved to be beneficial for them. The government should rethink on it and reconsider its decision.”

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