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Published in the 1-15 June 2009, page 11, print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Posted Online on Friday, 29 May 2009 15:10 IST

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Muslim Islamic NewsIndia: Murshidabad reflects the plight of Muslims

By Mohammad Naushad Khan

The Milli Gazette

Murshidabad district in West Bengal with almost 65 percent Muslim population has been governed by both the Congress and the Left since Independence. But the pathetic conditions of Muslims of this district reveal the utmost neglect over the years by the leaders no matter to which party they belonged to. It seems the road to development has so far not reached this district. The overall picture of the district appears to be grim and wears a deserted look in terms of progress and prosperity.

The figures provided by different sources project the indifferent attitude towards the Muslims of Murshidabad in particular and the rest of West Bengal in general. More than six decades down the line since Independence, 60 percent of the people living here are below poverty line. According to the Central Government figures, the district is the poorest in the country. With no better means of proper roads, transport and communication the district appears to be the replica of an ancient civilisation. Hundreds have lost their lives due to starvation and thousands more live on the margins without proper facilities to meet their ends for better livelihood.

A scene from Murshidabad
Picture: A scene from Murshidabad

The traditional occupation here remains weaving and farming. But this too can only flourish only when assistance is provided by concerned authorities. No proper schooling facility exists in the entire district. And even if some are educated, they do not get the opportunity to use their skills in their respective fields. Being economically backward, they find it almost difficult to move to other places in search of better opportunities to earn their livelihood. According to Khajim Ahmad, a renowned scholar and councillor of Murshidabad, says “No development took place in Murshidabad during the Marxist regime. The Sachar Committee report showed that the only industry that flourished here is smuggling and human trafficking.”

Tajuddin Sheikh of Murshidabad said “My son is the first in the family to have studied so much. I know many other people in and around our area who are desperately in need of jobs or other financial assistance. The Marxists have not done anything for us. Unless the government introduces reservation in government jobs and education, Muslims cannot progress.” Even the National Employment Rural Guarantee Scheme has not been implemented completely. It can be of some help to the neglected sections of the Muslim community. There could be great respite for the people of this area if the recommendations of the Sachar Committee report are implemented on the ground. Well-wishers and NGOs working for the development of this area needed to be encouraged and promoted so that they can put their maximum effort for the overall growth of this area. New employment opportunities should be generated to provide jobs to the emerging educated youth of the place.

Former principal of Giyagunj Rani Dhanya Kumari College, Mujibur Rehman said that “A middle class has emerged among Muslims and they are demanding jobs. And their anger has been turned towards the Marxists. Minorities here are traditionally Congress supporters.” Post-Independence, Muslims here stood more or less by the Congress, a tradition started by the then Nawab of Murshidabad Kazim Mirza. After partition, the creamy layer in the Muslim community went to Pakistan. Those who stayed in India were mostly landless labourers, weavers and carpenters. More or less their condition remains the same till date.

Now there will be a new government at the Centre without CPIM support. The ally of Congress in West Bengal Trinamool Congress has performed remarkably well this time. There is a sense of hope among the people that the condition of Muslims in these areas may improve if just a little attention is paid to the development of this area.

[To help Charity Alliance in their social work at Murshidabad please visit: www.charityalliance.in]

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