We must not forget that protection of minority rights is a significant human rights issue
The National Commission for Human Rights has, in a recent report, highlighted that nearly half of government jobs reserved for the religious minorities remain vacant, and where the employment quota has been filled, 80% of these positions are low paid. The commission has called upon the government to make all efforts to rectify the ‘anomalous’ situation and end discriminations against minorities. It has also noted with distress that in case of injury and death, employees from minority communities are paid inadequate compensation as compared to others.
It is no secret that it is the people from a minority community that are usually recruited as sanitary workers, and they are exposed to various occupational hazards while on duty. Advertisements inviting applications for sanitation work ‘only’ from a particular minority community amount to sheer discrimination and must come to an end forthwith. Every year several sanitary workers die or are injured while working in dangerous conditions. And it is mainly because they have to work manually, meaning without the machinery and protective gear to protect them from injury and death.
The NCHR chairperson says that it has written letters to the provincial chief secretaries to protect rights of the religious minorities in accordance with the constitutional guarantees and international obligations; and the officials have given written undertakings that rights of the minorities would be protected. The NCHR is required to keep following up on the matter unless and until they see things improving. There is also the need for more proactive roles of the government, civil society and the media in the context of minority rights as constitutional guarantees and court judgments have not proved sufficient for protecting rights of the minorities. Officials also need to be sensitised on conscious and unconscious biases against the minorities. We must not forget that protection of minority rights is a significant human rights issue.