Government policies for minorities answer to fatwas: Khurshid


New Delhi : The government’s policy of opening more banks in areas dominated by the minorities was an effective “condemnation” of fatwas warning Muslims against going to banks or taking out life insurance policies, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid said Saturday.

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“My greatest condemnation of such things is through the figures (of the success of schemes for minorities). Why should I stop my creative work and get into a condemnation exercise?” Khurshid asked while speaking to reporters at an interaction about his ministry’s functioning.

The Darul Uloom Deoband Islamic seminary in Uttar Pradesh has been in the news for issuing religious diktats against Muslims working in banks or opening bank accounts and taking out life insurance policies. It also said it was unlawful for Muslim women to work outside their homes.

“I am minority affairs minister as well as a Muslim myself. I have both a bank account and life insurance. This shows what I think about it,” he said.

He added that his ministry was trying to open more banks in the 90-odd districts where minorities dominate, as well as increase access to loans.

“We want to develop the community and hence are opening more banks in minority areas,” Khurshid said.

On the impact of such fatwas, he pointed out that banks are being opened in minority-dominated areas, as there was a demand. “Nobody has stopped us from opening a bank. We are also receiving demands for opening more such banks in the minority areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, reporting on the success of government policies, Khurshid said that there was an increased trend of recruitment of minorities in government and public sector undertakings from 8.23 percent in 2007-8 to 9.18 percent in 2008-9.

He said that the government was looking at ironing out some chinks before rolling out the legislation for setting up an Equal Opportunity Commission.

“The problem is that no other country has as many commissions as we have. We are working to ensure that there is no overlap,” he said.