Singur after six year: Voice of only Muslim Panchayat member Ashia Begum

By Zaidul Haque,,

Part 3 of the three part series on Singur.

Part 1: Six years later

Part 2: Six years later

Singur/Kolkata: The Beraberi Grampanchayat in Singur has 10 members: five from SC, two from OBC and three general caste members. Ashia Begum Molla, elected as an independent candidate from Chak Kalikaburi village of Beraberi, is the only Muslim member of the Panchayat among the 10 members.

Ashia Begum Molla, Only Muslim Member of Beraberi Grampanchayet of Panchayet of Singur Tata factory area.

TCN visited the Beraberi Panchayat on December 20, in the morning and met Ashia Begum Molla, middle aged housewife. She told TCN that she is first time member of the grampanchayat. She also informed that some farmers from her village too lost their land to the project.

Many Muslim families had land in Joymolla village that was taken over. According to Aisha Begum, at least 20 percent of Muslim farmers’ lands were acquired, although the number of ‘unwilling farmers’ is very less. She informed that due to lack of opportunities, most young men migrate t Gujarat or Punjab for work.

In charge of the Aganwadi in her village, she informs that due to lack of awareness although most families are very poor they do not hold BPL cards and are hence deprived of government opportunities.

Inspired and supported by a local social activist and secretary of Chak Kalikaburi Palli Unnayan Samaity Moinuddin Sarkar she decided to contest elections to help her villagers. Although her village had majority Muslims, most of the members were non-Muslims. The group called a meeting and organized and nominated Aisha Begum,a non-political person for the post. With the support of the villagers, she became the first Muslims woman member in the Panchayat samiti in Beraberi Grampanchayet under the Singur Panchayet Samity of Hooghly district.

Joymolla Jame Masjid in Joymolla village of Singur. Secretary of the Masjid Committee Shaikh Muhammad Ali standing in front of the Mosque.

As she had defeated CPI(M) candidate and had the tactical support of the TMC, after the change in power in the state, Aisha Begum got support to develop the Muslim villages, particularly the women.

Moinuddin Sarkar, who worked as mentor to Aisha Begum, is very supportive of her endeavour in upliftment of women and her campaign for education, particularly the girls.

He also informed that people who had got compensation for the land given for Tata project, could not utilize them properly due to lack of education and knowledge, and are hence still forced to migrate to other states for work, else are left to work in farmlands.