Call for Dalits and minorities to unite to secure their due

July 7th, 2008 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bodh Gaya

New York, July 7 (IANS) A three-day Dalit and minorities International Conference here has concluded by calling upon minorities and the oppressed classes in India to work unitedly to secure their due share in society and the polity. The conference adopted the “New York Vision Document 2008″, pledging to wage an unwavering struggle to achieve in a time-bound manner the goals of eliminating untouchability, and securing free and compulsory education and livelihood for Dalits and minorities.

Echoing the valedictory address by Ram Vilas Paswan, Indian Minister for Steel and chairman of the Dalit and Minorities International Forum, the convention declaration also sought affirmative action for marginalised Dalits and minorities. The declaration further made a strong plea for reservations for these two sections in the private sector as well as the armed forces and judiciary besides in educational institutions.

The conference that concluded Sunday was hosted by the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI), in Uniondale, Long Island, and attended by nearly 250 people from India and the US.

Briefing IANS about the discussions at the convention, AFMI president Ali Quraishi said: “Dalits and minorities, mainly Muslims, constitute about 40 to 50 percent of the population of India, and if they vote for the right candidates in polls, they can be a powerful voice, and secure what is due to them, that which has been denied to them for so long.”

The resolution passed by the convention also demanded compensation to 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims, justice for Godhra victims and restoration of Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya to the Buddhists.

Besides Paswan, others who spoke at the convention included Syed Shahabuddin, former MP, Udit Raj, president of the Indian Justice Party, activist lawyer Teesta Setalvad and Tehelka’s Tarun Tejpal.

The next annual conference, sixth in the series, will be held in Dubai.

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