It is government’s duty to protect minorities: Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, Jan.29: Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday reiterated that the minorities in India should feel safe and secure, and added that it is the duty of the government to protect them.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of National Waqf Development Corporation Limited (NAWADCO), Gandhi said, “Unity in diversity is the foundation of Indian culture. Our constitution provides guarantee for the rights of all people including the minorities. It is the duty of the government to defend secular traditions and motivate from them. It is important that the minorities must feel safe and secure.”

Elaborating details of NAWADCO, Gandhi said, “This Corporation will develop and protect the properties of Waqf board in an unbiased manner. This will result in increasing the revenues of Waqf board. For the development of Muslim community in India, this is another constructive step taken by the UPA government. With the establishment of this corporation, the UPA Government has fulfilled it’s yet another promise.”

She also said that the UPA Government under the leadership of Dr.Singh has always watched over the minorities and have worked for their betterment.

“By implementing the recommendations of the Sachchar committee, has brought pace in this direction. And now we can see the positive signs due to our efforts,” she said.

“We will continue our efforts to remove any inadequacy in the development of minorities in India. In the last ten years, there is tenfold increase in the profit in the schemes for the growth and improvement of minorities. The main objective behind major schemes is to ensure that the minorities get equal share in the country’s growth. There is a need to implement all these schemes properly. Proper emphasis should be given at the time of implementing the schemes,” she added.

The NAWADCO is termed as an important institution for the development of Waqf properties for the community welfare particularly for Muslims in India. The establishment of NAWADCO is a follow up of Sachchar Committee recommendation.

India has the largest number of Waqf properties in the world. There are more than 4.9 lakh registered Auqaf (waqf properties) and the current annual income from these properties is about Rs.163 crores.

Sachar Committee has estimated that such properties, if properly developed, with a minimum return of 10%, would be capable of generating an income of Rs.12000 crore per annum.

NAWADCO will also facilitate and mobilize financial resources for the development of Waqf properties for community development purposes in a joint venture with the State / Union Territory Waqf Boards and the Mutawallis. The Waqf Boards and the Muthawallis were not having the financial resources to develop the properties leading to encroachments.

The Indian Government had recently enacted the Waqf (Amendment) Act, 2013 making administration of waqf properties transparent. The Act will also provide an enabling environment for development and utilization of waqf lands for welfare of minorities. (ANI)