New Delhi: Dismissing the apprehensions of some Muslim organisations that the Right to Education Bill was against the community, Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Monday described it as "the fear of the unknown".
"I don`t think it is against Muslims. That can never be the intention of our government. I think, there is the fear of the unknown. It is being speculated that there could be
consequences that are detrimental," Khurshid told a news agency.
The minister maintained that "there was no question at all of undermining Madarsa` education or undermining Article 29 and Article 30" and added that "If there were certain
concerns, we we will address them."
Both the articles relate to protection of minority rights with the latter entitling a religious or linguistic minority to establish and administer educational institution of its choice.
The Jamiat-Ulema-i-Hind had recently threatened to oppose RTE with full vigour, describing the Act as "against fundamental rights" and demanded exemption of schools run by religious and linguistic minorities from its provisions.
Some other Muslim organisations have also voiced similar concerns.
The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat also underlined threats of "closure and penalties" under the RTE Act to minority institutions and urged them to organise
themselves at district and state levels.
Khurshid, however, appeared confident that the Government will be able to address these concerns and the HRD Ministry headed by Kapil Sibal will take necessary steps.
"I don`t think anyone has questioned our motive. Sibal is cognisant of the concerns that have been expressed. I am sure he will do whatever is necessary and take the required
steps. He is already in touch with those groups," he said.
Khurshid said his ministry has also forwarded some such representations to the HRD ministry. He said he along with Sibal will be attending some of the meetings called by
these groups over the next few days, which will enable them to get a "complete picture".
Khurshid also dismissed the contention of All India Muslim Personal Law Board that the amendment in Wakf act making registration of wakf properties mandatory can affect
Muslims`s claims on Babri Masjid, saying such apprehension was "misplaced and misinformed".
The minister, who had a meeting with representatives of the AIMPLB a few days back on the issue, wondered that no one pushed for the issue in the meeting and instead came out with a "wish-list" seeking more features in the amended Wakf Act.
"I met them (AIMPLB representatives). The so-called apprehension was misplaced, misinformed and was not even pushed by anyone. But they expressed their desire and request to have more features (in the Wakf Act)," Khurshid said, adding "whatever can be accommodated will be accommodated".
"They had a wish list. We will have to see whether it can be accommodated now or at the later stages. After all, there is cost benefit analysis in everything. We will tell
them that if we can`t do it now we will do it later," he said.
Khurshid, however, felt that these issues should have been raised earlier when the Joint Parliamentary Committee was looking into the issue of wakf reforms.
"If the JPC report was found inadequate by the stakeholders, they should have come a little more aggressively at that point of time instead of coming after the bill is
passed by one House of the Parliament," he said.
Asked about the AIMPLB`s contention that the amendment will affect Muslims` claim on Babri mosque as it was not registered, Khurshid said, "There is no such issue. There is
no point into it. This is not a problem at all. They were misinformed and were not even raising it."
He said the Masjid property is already registered and hence "whoever was raising it were doing it for extraneous reasons or were doing it for lack of information."
When pointed that some Muslim MPs have met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the issue, Khurshid said they met him as well.
"They met prime minister and said something to him. I met them and showed them what they were saying was wrong. If they had taken me there, I would have told them in front of the PM that they were wrong," Khurshid said.