(MENAFN - Arab News) Minorities in India are living in desperate conditions due to high levels of illiteracy and lack of education, according to Safdar H. Khan, chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission.
Khan, who was on a visit to the Kingdom to perform Umrah, took the occasion to attend a Kokan community program in Jeddah on Thursday to address the grievances of community members and raise awareness regarding the Indian government's schemes to assist minorities.
He said that minorities whether they are Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists or Parsis need to be aware of government schemes, as that will help them avail themselves of the facilities they are entitled to.
"The main aim of my visit was to perform Umrah and to hold meetings with community members to discuss their problems and concerns," he said.
Khan said he would try to resolve some of the problems minorities face, especially those related to education.
He emphasized the role of education in enhancing the living conditions of minorities, and attributed illiteracy as one of the key reasons behind why some Muslims are sentenced to prison for petty crimes.
"We are trying to solve this problem among minorities, by providing them with better educational facilities and opportunities in order for them to attain a better life. At the moment, there are 8,000 Hindus and 2,400 Muslims in Delhi's Tihar jail, which constitutes almost 24 percent of the prisoner demography in that jail," he said.
He said most of these prisoners have remained in jail because they are unable to pay their fines even after completing their terms.
"We are trying to assist these prisoners who can't afford to pay their fines of 5,000 rupees, as they don't have anyone to look after their families."
He said: "Special category loans are available for Muslims to pursue higher education. The Indian government is working hard to support minorities."
Regarding the problem of some Indian parents who are unable to enroll their children in Indian International School for lack of places, Khan said he would take up the issue with the Indian Embassy and Consulate.