India, Pakistan failed in giving minorities their due: Markandey Katju

Markandey Katju

Both India and Pakistan have failed on the test for a civilised society as minorities in either of the countries are not respected, Press Council of India (PCI) chairperson Justice Markandey Katju said on Saturday.

"For every civilised society, there is a test that how does it treat minorities. Unless minorities can live with dignity and respect, it is not a civilised society. And on that criterion both India and Pakistan have failed," he said.

"Neither we respected the minorities - what happened to Sikhs in 1984, to Muslims in 2002, to Kashmiri Pandits. And in Pakistan, Hindus are coming to India because they can't live with dignity. Nor Christians, Ahmediyyas and Shias...Neither India is a civilised society, nor Pakistan is a civilised society. Both of us do not treat our minorities with respect," he added.

The PCI chairman was speaking at the book release function of 'Sarabjit Singh : A case of mistaken identity' written by Awais Sheikh. Sheikh is Singh's lawyer in Pakistan.

Indians and Pakistanis who are lodged in jails of either country become victims of propaganda which the British had unleashed after 1857, Katju said.

"Sarabjit and Dr Khalil Chishty have been victims to the mindset that communal propaganda which had been started by the British," he said.

"The matter related to Sarabjit is not an isolated one. There are historical reasons that form the background. The mindset that has been created after Partition - in India that all Pakistanis are bad, and in Pakistan that all Indians are bad. Sarabjit Singh and Dr Khalil Chishty are victims of that propaganda," Katju said.

While Singh is languishing in a Lahore jail for nearly 22 years, Chishty was released recently after spending 20 years in Ajmer jail.

Katju said the British had encouraged division between Hindus and Muslims after the first war of Independence.

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