Sardar Iqbal Singh Lalpura: Former IPS officer and BJP national spokesperson Sardar Iqbal Singh Lalpura on 10 September 2021 assumed charge as the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) in the presence of Union Minister for Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
About Sardar Iqbal singh Lalpura:
- Iqbal Singh Lalpura hails from the Ropar district of the state.
- He was an active police officer during the phase when Punjab witnessed terrorism.
- During his tenure as IPS officer, served as SSP Amritsar, SSP Tarantaran, and Additional inspector general CID Amritsar.
- He joined BJP in 2012 after retirement.
- Before being appointed as national minorities commission chairman, he was a national spokesperson for BJP and a popular face on television debates.
- He has written nearly 14 books on Sikh philosophy and history, such as ‘Japji Sahib ek vichaar’, Gurbaani ek vichaar’, and ‘Raj Karega Khalsa’.
- The awards he has won include President’s police medal, police medal for meritorious services, Shiromani Sikh Sahitkar award, Sikh scholar award, etc.
- He was one of the three officers chosen to arrest Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale.
About National Commission for Minorities (NCM):
- The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
- Initially, Original notification of 1993, five religious communities, viz., Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities by the Union Government.
- Further, vide notification; six religious communities, viz; Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis), and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by the Union Government all over India.
Purpose of NCM:
- Union Government constituted National Commission for Minorities (NCM), New Delhi and State Government constituted State Minorities Commissions in their respective State Capitals.
- These organizations are set up to safeguard and protect the interests of minorities as provided in the Constitution of India and laws enacted by the Parliament and the State Legislatures.
- The NCM adheres to the United Nations Declaration of 18 December 1992 which states that “States shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.”
Rights & Safeguards of Minorities:
- The Indian Constitution does not define the word Minority, however, it has provided constitutional safeguards and fundamental rights to minorities:
Under Fundamental Rights Part III of Indian Constitution:
- The Indian state is committed to administering these rights which can be enforced by the judiciary
- Right of ‘any section of the citizens’ to ‘conserve’ its ‘distinct language, script or culture’; (Article 29(1)).
- Right of all Religious and Linguistic Minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice ;( Article 30(1)).
- Freedom of Minority-managed educational institutions from discrimination in the matter of receiving aid from the State;(Article30(2)).
Under Part XVII Official Language of Indian Constitution:
- Rights for any section of the population for a language spoken by them ;(Article 347)
- Provision for facilities of instruction in the mother tongue; (Article 350A)
- Provisioning a special officer for linguistic minorities and defining his duties; (Article 350B).