Mushawarat voices concern on issues confronting Indian Muslims

By staff reporter

New Delhi : All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, at the 10th meeting of its Markazi Majlis-e-Mushawarat held here Saturday, adopted resolutions on various issues including implementation of Sachar Committee and Mishra Commission recommendations, proposed amendment to the Constitution to define ‘minority', CBI investigation of Hyderabad bomb blast and judicial inquiry of police firing, national observance of 150th anniversary of 1857 uprising, need for urgent amendment in Wakf Act 1995, and investigation of all cases of fake encounters by a Special Investigation Team of the CBI, etc.

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On Sachar Committee Report, the Mushawarat expressed its dissatisfaction with the decisions of the Central government on the recommendations of the Sachar Report, which "more or less block the road to any rapid, visible uplift of the Muslim community and make no advance on the PM's new 15-point programme and the Budget 2007."

The Mushawarat noted that the "fear of Hindu backlash has frozen the government into inaction," or at least limited it to token gestures or long term plans. It is of the view that this fear is "misplaced" because the Hindu masses are essentially secular and committed to social justice.

The Mushawarat underscored the need for implementing all universal development schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan on a war footing in all Muslim areas, for providing the benefits of other Central or Centrally sponsored development and welfare schemes for all Muslims all over the country in proportion to their population in the zone of distribution, and for carving a Muslim Sub-Plan out of the plan outlay, on the lines of the Sub-Plans for the SC and the ST.

The Mushawarat also welcomed the formation of the Joint Committee of Muslim Organisations, endorsed the Common Charter of Demands formulated by it and supported its programme of mass mobilisation to pressurise the Government to take urgent steps for the uplift of the community.

As for recommendations of Mishra Commission for reservation for Muslims, the Mushawarat considered that these recommendations for 15% reservation for the minorities, with 10% exclusively for Muslims, and for deletion of the religious pre-condition in the Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order of 1950 constitute positive steps towards social justice. The Mushawarat called upon the secular parties, particularly the Dalit organisations and Dalit based political parties to support these recommendations and to demand a raise in the SC quota on the basis of Census, 2001.

The Mushawarat also demanded that the government should now declare Muslims, as a community, a backward class under Article 15(4) of the Constitution and provide it with a separate quota, as in Karnataka.

In a resolution, the Mushawarat considered the move for amendment to the Constitution or the promulgation of an Act to define the term ‘minority' as "ill conceived, unnecessary and inadvisable." It felt that the term ‘minority' which is well understood in human parlance, nationally and internationally and has been extensively used since the days of the freedom struggle, leaves no ambiguity.

The Mushawarat, however, proposed that in view of continental dimension of the country, its quasi-federal set-up, its multi-level governance and the dispersal of minorities at every level all over the country, the Central Government may issue an Executive Direction to all authorities which receive development and welfare funds from it to identify minorities, religious, cultural, ethnic or caste by enumeration at every level of governance to ensure that they receive their due share in development benefits in proportion to their population in the unit area and the constituencies of their concentration are not reserved for others in elections to the Panchayati Raj institutions.

The Mushawarat took note of the fact that as for the educational rights of the Minorities under Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, the minorities are being identified in relation to their share in the population of the country or of the state in accordance with the statute, which governs the educational facility.

In yet another resolution, the Mushawarat appreciated the transfer of investigation of the bomb blast at Makkah Masjid in Hyderabad to the CBI and expressed the hope that the CBI shall, inter alia, "probe possible involvement of Hindu terrorist organisations instead of focussing exclusively on Muslim ‘terrorists' and their Pakistani connections."

The Mushawarat also appreciated the appointment of a separate judicial Commission of Inquiry in respect of the brutal police firing on the victims of the bomb blast. It demanded that the state government appoint more Muslims in the AP Police, its armed constabularies and special battalions and post composite teams in all police stations in Muslim concentration areas, in order to inspire confidence of the Muslim community.

In a separate resolution, the Mushawarat expressed its shock and anguish that the central government refrained from making any move at the diplomatic level for transfer of the last remains of Bahadur Shah Zafar, titular head of our First War of independence in 1857 to Delhi, under pressure from communal forces. It is also pained by the general play-down of the role of the Muslim martyrs and freedom fighters in 1857, as well as in the pre-1857 and post-1857 phases, and called upon the government to make necessary amends, when official history is re-written.

Another resolution urged the Ministry of Minority Affairs to expedite appropriate amendments to the Wakf Act, 1995, in order to make the Wakf Boards more representative and responsive and to empower them to protect the Wakf properties, to raise their income and to mandate the wakf estates to utilise their surplus for educational and social uplift of the community.

It called for the grant of ‘public premises' status to Public Wakfs to facilitate removal of unlawful occupation and their exemption from rent control and land ceiling laws.

The Mushawarat also requested the Ministry of Minority Affairs to cancel the unlawful notification of 2002 for trifurcation of the Punjab Wakf Board and also the misconceived notification relating to the acquisition of 123 Wakf properties in Delhi identified by the Burney Committee.

In another resolution the Mushawarat proposed for urgent consideration by the National Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Supreme Court that all cases of suspected extra-judicial killing or fake encounters or involuntary disappearances should be investigated by a Special Investigation Team of the CBI, and placed before Special CBI Courts for prosecution.

The Mushawarat took note of the results of the municipal elections in Malegaon and Bhiwandi in which newly formed Muslim parties have shown spectacular results and their representatives stand a chance of being elected as mayors. It however cautioned these bodies to maintain friendly relations with secular parties, and not permit themselves to be exploited by communal parties like the BJP or the Shiv Sena, which are basically anti-Muslim.