: A demand to mount international pressure on Pakistan over the issue of forceful religious conversion of minority Hindu and Sikh girls was raised in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
Raising the issue through a Zero Hour mention, Kirodi Lal Meena (BJP) said several parts of Pakistan have seen a spurt in incidence of abduction of young Hindu girls for forceful religious conversion after the Pulwama attacks.
Temples have been destroyed and Sikhs thrown out of Gurudwaras, he said, adding around one thousand girls have been forcefully converted.
Pakistan, he said, is not safe for minorities from human rights angle and its government is not serious about protecting interests of minorities. In 71 years of its formation, the Hindu population has dwindled to 1.2 per cent from 31 per cent in 1947, he said.
He asked the Indian government to help build international pressure to stop atrocities on Hindus, Sikhs, Christan and other minorities in Pakistan. "International pressure has to be built to stop religious conversions," he said.
Vandana Chavan (NCP) raised the issue of varied age criteria for admission to Class 1 in different states. Besides entry age differing from state to state and education board to education board, the cut off date for determining the age limit also varies, she said.
While states such as Maharashtra, Bihar and Punjab provide for minimum 6 years of age for entry into Class 1, other states have minimum age of 5 years, she said, adding also the cut off date for determining the age varies from March 31, June 30 to September 30 in different states.
This impacts career prospects of children as entry into NDA and UPSC is based on 5 year age criteria for entry into Class 1, she said demanding a uniform age and cut off date criteria for the entire country.
If the country can have one-nation one-tax (GST) and is talking of one national one poll, it can also have one nation one cut off date and one age criteria, she added. C M Ramesh (BJP) raised the issue of drought threat over southern India because of deficient rainfall.
"44 per cent of area is facing drought. Of this, 17 per cent is facing severely dry conditions," he said, adding the crisis has been aggravated due to depleting ground water levels.
He demanded linking of Godavari river to Cauvery to make available 3000 tmc of water to southern states which otherwise goes into sea. Satyanarayan Jatiya (BJP) wanted a time-bound programme for tackling water, air and soil pollution which is threatening human lives.
Shanta Chhetri (TMC) opposed shifting of the Lebong Military Hospital in Darjeeling to Assam, saying the move will put retired Gorkha military personnel at great inconvenience as they would have to travel long distance for treatment.
While log bed occupancy is being given as the reason for the move to shift the hospital, in reality no specialist doctor was posted there for a long time, she said asking the government to reconsider the decision to move the hospital. Jharna Das Baidya (CPM) demanded that the central government give financial assistance to states to help regularise contract teachers.
Ram Kumar Kashyap (BJP) wanted the Rs 6,000 a year farmer cash dole be extended to contract farmers who currently are excluded because they don't hold land title. Kahkashan Perween (JD-U) wanted first-aid medical services be available on trains to help pregnant women.