Christians get own wing in AP

via Deccan Chronicle published on July 19, 2008

Hyderabad, July 18:

Christians will have an exclusive department for their welfare, headed by a principal secretary and a separate finance corporation. The Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, who discussed representations received from various Christian organisations, approved the proposals here on Friday.

Currently, Christians and other minority communities like Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis come under the minorities department. The department for Christians is the fallout of complaints from non-Muslim minorities that Muslims were cornering benefits in the minority department and others were denied their share of funds proportionate to their population.

Dr Reddy also approved a proposal to organise mass marriages for Christian and Muslim minorities on the lines of Kalyanamasthu organised by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam and government. “Poor couples will be paid Rs 15,000 towards marriage expenses and other requirements,” said the minorities welfare minister, Mr Mohd Ali Shabbir, after a meeting with the Chief Minister.

Christians, particularly white card holders, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem will get subsidy from the government for the pilgrimage on the lines of Haj. The first batch of Christians with partial government support would be sent on pilgrimage next month. Quoting from the 2001 census, Mr Shabbir said the total population of Muslims in the state was 69.88 lakh followed by 12 lakh Christians, 31,000 Sikhs and 31,000 other minorities.

“The Chief Minister has directed that henceforth the minority welfare department should release funds proportionate to the population of the minority community,” he added.

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