Lakhs of Muslims face unemployment

Because of removal of tanneries, the way Muslims and Dalits were deprived of their livelihood after the removal of Subzi Mandi.

Delhi: President of Muslim Forum for National Harmony, Iqbal Qureshi, said in a press statement here on 9 December that as a result of the removal of tanneries from Jajmau (Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh) about 8 lakh Muslims will be rendered unemployed in the same way as about one lakh Muslims and Dalits were deprived of their livelihood after the removal of the Subzi Mandi from Qidwai Nagar. Clarifying his statement, Iqbal Qureshi said that sometime back an RSS worker had filed a petition in the High Court, saying that the reason of all pollution in the river Ganga is the dirty and poisonous water of the tanneries which flows in it. Saffron press strongly supported this petition because of which the central as well state governments said in the court that pollution of the river Ganga is because of the dirty waters of these tanneries. Taking advantage of this, Pollution Control Board tightened its grip on Jajmau and created so much of fear that owners of all big and small tanneries failed to stand up to defend their tanneries and no appeal in their favour could be made in the High Court. now this case is at the final stage in the court and if suitable steps are not taken in this matter, these tanneries are bound to be removed from Jajmau as a result of which about 8 lakh people who run these tanneries and those who are working in them will be rendered totally unemployed and will face starvation.

An important reason of the growth of tanneries is that after the closure of cloth mills in Kanpur, a large number of those working in these mills became unemployed and began to work in these tanneries and the remaining ones took up the job of selling retail fruits and vegetables at Qidwai Nagar Subzi Mandi or selling them from door to door. Because of government policy of granting reservation and other concessions to Dalits, their new generation got jobs in government offices and other places but poor Muslims were denied such facilities. They either started small-scale tannery business or began to work in these tanneries. Under such circumstances if tanneries too are removed from Jajmau, about 8 lakh Muslims and Dalits will again be thrown out of their jobs and will certainly face starvation. In view of the anticipated serious condition, Iqbal Quraishi told mediapersons that on one side he would file a petition in the High Court arguing that the purpose of the petition filed by the RSS worker in the High Court was not to protect Ganga waters from pollution but to render a particular class of people unemployed and backward. A clear proof of his malafide intention is that nowhere in his petition did he mention those 20000 factories of Kanpur whose poisonous water and effluents have been flowing into the Ganga through sewer lines and Pandar river. In such a situation the High Court will be requested to direct central and state governments to ensure that all waters of tanneries are collected at one particular place or a reservoir and they themselves should take the responsibility of cleaning and treatment of these polluted waters because in a similar case Kanpur Jal Sansthan has set up a secondary water treatment plant which, however, at present is non-functional. Therefore, government should set up bigger and efficient water treatment plant where all the water of tanneries could be treated under the supervision of Pollution Control Board. In this way dirty water of tanneries will not flow at all in the Ganga. If this is done, there will be no need of removing the tanneries from Jajmau and the means of livelihood of about 8 lakh people will be protected.

Iqbal Qureshi said that he would not only present his formula and arguments in the High Court but in addition to submitting these to central and state governments he would also seek the cooperation and help of all those organisations which are working for keeping the Ganga clean. He would also seek the cooperation and support of sadhus and sants for his formula. He clarified that all his efforts in this direction were based on humanitarian considerations, i.e., to protect the livelihood of lakhs of tannery owners and workers. Giving an example he said that just as in 1991 we had tried to bring justice and help to about ten lakh earthquake-hit Hindus of Garhwal, in the same way we shall try to help and bring justice to the owners and workers of Jajmau’s tanneries and we shall continue our efforts under the banner of Janhit Suraksha Manch.