Brakes on the progress of Muslims in Gujarat


By Sheesh Narain Singh

New Delhi: Government of Gujarat and BJP leaders are never tired of saying that after Narendra Modi becoming the chief minister, all sections of the state’s population are making progress. Their claim is that Muslims also are getting opportunities of progress and development. Darul Uloom Deoband’s Rector Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Vastanvi had crossed the limit when he had claimed that in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, no discrimination of any kind is made to minorities and that everybody is getting equal opportunity in the progress of the state. No body dares to ignore the black deeds of Modi, not even Modi himself. After Maulana Vastanvi’s praise, BJP activists and leaders have now started quoting Deoband’s chief but this is not true.

It can be said with certainty on the basis of a survey conducted by National Countil for Applied Economic Research (NCAER), a central government organisation, that in Gujarat, Muslims have been and are backward in every field. There was a time when both Hindus and Muslims had equal opportunities and were progressing but after 2002, Muslims have become second class citizens. They have educationally become very backward there. There are only a few Muslims in every field who are progressing and who can be seen frequently in discussions on television but the process of common Muslims becoming backward that started after 2002 knows no end. Experts and economists working in NCAER have brought out a survey report according to which Muslims of Gujarat have been left far behind economically.

This survey report is based on the statistics of National Sample Survey Organisation, NCAER and Sachar Committee Report. Just as during the prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP had been propagating ‘Shining India’, exactly in the same way these days the progress of Gujarat is being parroted everywhere, but the truth is that in Gujarat there are difficulties and unrest everywhere. This survey indicates that the statistics of hunger and economic conditions in Gujarat are the same as in Orissa and Bihar, while in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand conditions are even worse. This means that out of eight states where BJP claims to have its government, in five states statistics of hunger are most disappointing.

This survey also shows that the poverty graph of Muslims of urban areas is 50 percent more than that of upper caste people (Hindus). Educationally also, Muslims are very backward, seeing that 75 percent children of Muslim population take admission in schools but only 26 percent reach the level of 10th class. Among Dalits this figure is 41 percent which in any case is more than Muslims. This is certainly a matter of concern but from BJP side it is propagated every now and then that Muslims are progressing in Gujarat. The need to bring this misconception to an end is therefore much more today than it was ever before.

It is also said that in Gujarat, riots don’t take place but the common feeling in civil society is that the feeling of terror and fear is so much ingrained in the minds of Muslims of Gujarat that they cannot even think of opposing any thing or opening their mouths for making complaints. The barbarity with which Ishrat Jahan of Mumbai was killed was felt all over the world and Gujarat police was condemned for it. On Gujarat High Court’s instructions, a special investigation team was constituted to enquire into her fake encounter. Satish Chandra Varma, IG of this investigation team, stated in his affidavit filed in the High Court that Ishrat Jahan’s encounter was fake but effort is being made to protect those who had killed her in a fake encounter. Obviously, under such state of terror and fear, no Muslim will stand to complain against such injustice. This means that the condition of Muslims in Gujarat is extremely bad. Needless to say that if other political parties, central government and Indian society do not take notice of such state of affairs immediately, Gujarat will become a ruthless and barbarian society.

The Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) organised a presentation by Dr. Abu Saleh Shariff, chief economist at NCAER in order to cut through such rhetoric and show the true position of Muslims across different states. (Translated from Urdu daily Sahafat, 19 Feb. 2011)

Pix: A dargah at Shahpura, vandalised during 2002 Gujarat riots

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2011 on page no. 3

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