Muslim Reservation Movement Action Plan

Lucknow: The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is yet to do anything concrete for Muslims, despite PM”s much quoted statement that “Muslims have the first right over nation”s resources”. The Justice Rajender Sachar Commission Report was supposed to have diagnosed “the problem” and this has been followed by the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission Report, but “the problem” remains. If the government fails to act on the recommendations any number of Commissions it would all end up with sound and fury singnifying nothing.

Therefore the Muslims from the most populated state of the country and also home to the largest number of Muslims — Uttar Pradesh — have launched an acton programme and launched the Muslim Reservation Movement (MRM) under its convenor Zafaryab Jilani. It has already convened more than one dozen zonal conferences, apart from three state level conferences, coupled with more than five dozen public meetings with one sit-in dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. MRM has representatives from more than 40 districts in UP. It has become the most potent vehicle for public mobilisation for the demand of reservation. “Reservation to Muslims in government sector is the most crying need” said Shafiq-ur-Rehman Barq —  Member of Parliament, while presiding over the MRM meeting in Lucknow on Dec 30, 2009.

MRM has put forward three demands. “The first, Dalit Muslims be given the status of Scheduled Castes (SC). For this purpose the Presidential Order of 1950 under Article 341 of Constitution of India ought to be amended,” said Barq. It might be mentioned that Hindus, Buddhists and even Sikhs have been included in the SC strata, through various amendments, but Muslims and Christians have been excluded from it. “The amendment has benefitted only those belonging to indigenous religious beliefs,” castigated Barq.

The second demand is to allocate 9% “quota within quota” to Muslims under the Other Backward Castes (OBC) 27% reservation. Muslims at par with the OBC status make around 9% of the whole OBC population but their representation in government sector is dismal. Obviously, this is because the dominant amongst the OBCs namely, the Yadavs, Kurmis, Lodhs, Jats etc. make the most of it. Barely Muslims have made the maximum of just 3.5% within the stipulated 27% for OBCs. “The redressal of our demand is the prerogative of both the State and Centre governments by way of the amendment of the Act,” demanded Barq. OBC reservation had become the reality when Mandal Commission report, initiated in 1979, was implemented by the late PM VP Singh in 1991.

“The third demand is for those general Muslims who have become backward as per social, educational and economic indicators, and apart from those catering to the creamy layer, be also given reservation, as per the Ranganath Misra Commission report. The report needs to be passed through the parliament and acted upon, said Barq.

In order to wipe out the educational backwardness of Muslims the government should initiate scholarships to Muslim students, on the same pattern as those given to students belonging to SC.

For further action MRM has decided to organise two zonal conferences, as an immediate programme, in Sultanpur and Maharajganj. Plus, there would be a state level conference in April in which media personnel would be specially invited. Wakil Ahmed, Dilshad Husain and Masood Jilani have been deputised for the purpose.

The Steering Committee members of MRM would also meet Prime Minister Manmohan singh and the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi apart from leaders of secular political parties to impress upon for the three demands. Shafiq- ur-Rehman would see for the modalities to make possible the MRM delegation to meet the PM at the earliest. A delegation of MRM under co-convenor of MRM Malik Azeem Khan would also meet the UP Chief Minister Mayawati. A sit-in dharna has also been planned, during the coming budget session of Parliament in March-in New Delhi.

“This would enable us to garner maximum public opinion as we would try to force the government to wake up from its historical slumber and meet the most genuine demands of Muslim community and to finally do something, in exchange, to what has as yet come to be known as government with a secular mandate,” said Jilani. National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) quite understandably has called that reservation, if given to Muslims, would result into the second partition of the country.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 February 2010 on page no. 12

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