Muslim backward classes hold rally in Delhi for their demands

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi,

New Delhi: Scores of Muslim backward classes under the leadership of entrepreneur Sirajuddin Qureshi, a national leader of the Qureshi community, held a rally today in New Delhi to kick start a movement for empowerment within the Muslim community and press political parties for reservation.

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The elite class of the Muslim community is responsible for divisions within the community as they paid little attention to the educational and economic progress of the majority backward classes of the community, said Asseruddin Shah, a leader of the Shah community.

Muslim political leaders, whose overwhelming majority since Independence has come from the upper class of the Muslim society, did not pay much attention to the overall development of the community, he said adding this gathering has been held to start a fight for the rights of the backward Muslim sections.

Shareef Ahmad Darzi, president, National Darzi Mahasangh, said: why we are still backward is that none of our leaders want to become Kanshi Ram, everyone wants to become Mayawati. Common Muslims are yet to wake up to their exploitation. He said.

Of 400 Muslim MPs in the last 60 years, only 40 belonged to backward Muslim classes. Of 26 MPs today, only one is from these classes. So they have not talked much about the backward Muslim classes, Shareef said. He criticized the UPA government for not implementing the reports of the Ranganath Mishra Commision and Rajendra Sachar Committee. It’s time the Muslims woke up and forced powers that be to accept their demands, he said.

Haji Islam Qamar Salmani, president, All India Jamaat Salmani Biradari, said: Today’s rally can become the foundation of the bright future of the backward classes in the Muslim community. “Though we are not in large number here at the program, this convention will be a historic one. Today from this ground we are launching a fight which will be fought in streets in days to come,” he said.
Commenting on the Muslim leaders’ one-upmanship, Chaudhary Mateen Ahmad, Congress MLA in Delhi, said: Muslim leaders, who claim to represent a class or sub-class, need to work for the members of their classes at the ground level. They will have to be with them in their difficult times. Only then the community would follow them and will attend to their call. Just to form a group or party and become its president will not do. He was indirectly referring to very thin presence of the audience in the program. While on the stage there were around 100 ‘leaders’ – who claim to represent one Muslim class/sub-class or the other – there were just a few hundred people in the Ramlila ground where about 20 thousand chairs were waiting for their followers.

Talking to pressmen on the sidelines of the rally, Haji Yosuf Qureshi, United Democratic Front leader, demanded the government to implement the recommendation of the Mandal Commission that 9% reservation should be given to backward Muslim classes. So far the centre has given just 2% reservation to such Muslim classes and state governments only 1%, he said. He also demanded reservation to Muslim Dalits on par with the Hindu Dalits. “As Hindu Dalits are getting reservation on socio-economic ground, not on religious ground, then why deprive Muslims of the benefit on religious ground,” he asked.

On winning prospects of Muslim political parties that have mushroomed in the last few months, he said it is impossible for them to win in the coming Lok Sabha elections. “True, the Constitution allows people to form party and organizations but it was time for Muslim community to strengthen the secular parties. It is not a local body election. This is the election for prime minister and for the government that will rule the country,” Qureshi said.

Don’t you think these Muslim political parties should have been united and should fight the elections under a single banner? “A lot of efforts were made for the unity but Muslim leaders are not willing to get united. Yet, they want the community to be untied. No leader is willing to accept another’s leadership,” he said.

Asked about the thin presence of people in the rally, he said it has always been easy in the country to gather people on emotional issues but it is difficult to do this on dry issues.