Progress of Gujarat Muslims is laudable

New Delhi: In spite of official apathy and bias against Muslims, extremely unfavourable and hostile communal environment in Gujarat, progress made by Muslims, by dint of hard work in educational and economic fields without any help from the government, is really laudable. After the genocidal riots of 2002 under alleged overt and covert state sponsorship the biggest problem for the Muslims was to bring justice both to victims of oppression and violence as well as to the perpetrators of violence. In Gujarat, according to official statistics the population of Muslims is about 50 lakh which is about 10 percent of the state’s total population. Prof. J.S. Bandukwala who was at one time a professor in Baroda’s M.S. University and who was himself a victim of the riots, has in a recent article reviewed the progress of Muslims during the past one decade. According to him the past decade had been extremely painful and trying for them (Muslims) but paradoxically, in a way it was very useful also to them because the progress made by them on the principle of self help, self reliance and hard work was unsurpassed in any other decade. Bandukwala had limited his area of attention to four points i.e. to bring justice to victims of genocidel and riot-affected people, to provide standard education to all Muslims, to promote their own business and industry and to play a political-cum-constructive role so as to ensure that Muslims become an integral part of Gujarat society.

He has succeeded to some extent in his first objective, seeing that a large number of criminals and perpetrators of genocidal violence are sentenced by courts and imprisoned, though he thinks that Justice Nanavati Commission which is looking into the Gujarat riots is not expected to do justice or do any thing good to Muslims. Also, there is little or no hope of its report becoming public. The Modi government has appointed both sons of Nanavati, who is a retired judge of the Supreme Court, special official prosecutors. Similarly, another judge, Akshay Mehta has been appointed a member of the enquiry commission as a reward for freeing the notorious goon, Babu Bajrangi on bail so that he would not be put behind bars even for a single day. He (Babu Bajrangi) is the same brute who, after killing the 9 month pregnant Kausar Bano had cut open her stomach, taken out the embryo and tossed it on the point of his sword. By this barbarous act he thought that he had performed a great feat.

In the field of education the progress made by Muslims is marvellous. Till 2002 Muslims had not paid much attention to modern education. In southern Gujarat there were 23 institutions of higher education. Compared to this there were only three degree colleges of Muslims but riots taught them the lesson that they cannot confront and compete with Hindutva forces unless they are equipped with modern education. Today the number of Muslim schools in this state has gone up from 250 to 700. Similarly Baroda’s ‘Zidni Ilma’ Charitable Trust is paying special attention to higher, modern, technical and vocational education which, for the moment, is fully supporting 60 medical and 150 engineering students. Girls too are making wonderful progress in the field of education.

They (Muslims) are now paying special attention to increasing their sources of income, though there is so much bias and discrimination against them that getting jobs in government departments is almost impossible for them. Recently, vacancies for 980 revenue officers were filled up in which only 24 Muslims were appointed. Hence Muslims are paying attention to self employment, though because of very tough competition they have to excel others in every field. Nationalised banks have now opened their branches in Muslim areas but again Muslims are victims of bias. The share of Muslims in Bank deposits is more than their population i.e. 12 percent but the total value of loans being given or actually given to them is only 2.6 percent.

The other side of the picture is that all Muslim localities of this state are deprived of basic facilities. Because of recurrence of riots and unwillingness by non-Muslims to sell houses and other properties to Muslims, Muslims are compelled to live in ghettoes resulting in much pressure on Muslim population.

Prof. Bandukwala while impressing upon Muslims the need to take part in elections advises them to use their votes honestly and fearlessly. At the same time he advises people of the Bohra community and other religious leaders who offer caps to Modi, to keep a distance from Narendra Modi and not stoop low so as to touch his feet. He, in particular advises people of the Bohra community to take lessons from the boldness, fearlessness and valour of Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Imam Husain who never surrendered to the forces of evil and untruth. It may be added incidentally that Bandukwala too belongs to the Bohra community.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2012 on page no. 15

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