Backward class Muslims seek reservations
Thousands of backward class Muslims staged a dharna in the Maharashtra capital Wednesday, seeking reservations as available to other backward classes in the country for jobs, housing and in education.
Organised by various Muslim groups, the protest drew support from various political parties including the Awami Vikas Party (AVP), the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party.
Several speakers pointed out that Muslims comprise 14 percent of India's population but their representation in various elected and statutory bodies was insignificant.
AVP chief Shamsher Khan Pathan said in 2009 only 28 Muslims were elected to parliament; barely five percent of parliament's strength comprised Muslims, he added.
"We are not asking reservations for all Muslims but the government must at least give reservation in all spheres, education, jobs and housing, for the backward class Muslims on the lines given to other backward classes in the country," Pathan said.
The sit-in demonstration was held after the recent report of a seven-member commission headed by retired IAS officer Mehmood ur-Rehman recommended reservations for the community.
Former MP Aijaz Ali demanded a quota system to rectify the low representation of Muslims in various elected bodies in the country like state legislatures and parliament.
Ali said that barring a provision for Anglo-Indian representation, there is no constitutional provision for quotas for minorities or backward castes in the legislatures or parliament.
Demanding suitable legislative amendments, the speakers said that if the Muslim backward classes were not given reservation by Aug 10 next year they would intensify their agitation.
State teachers' leader and legislator Kapil Patil, Nationalist Congress Party state working president Jitendra Awhad and other leaders also addressed the gathering which had a significant presence of Muslim women.
(Posted on 27-11-2013)