YSR and Muslims

By Ayub Khan

The tragic death of Y.S.Rajashekhara Reddy is undeniably a loss for Andhra Pradesh’s Muslim community. Among all the current chief ministers he stands out for taking proactive measures to improve the socio-economic status of the Muslim community.

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Among his prime contributions for the Muslim community was the extension of limited reservations for Muslims in the state which has benefited many a student. His interest in return Waqf properties was also applauded by the Muslim community. He was personally involved in returning to the Waqf Board 50 acres of prime land belonging to Dargah Hazrat Baba Sharfuddin which had been encroached by a state corporation. The present value of this land stands at Rs. 350 crore. Such measures had led the senior most Muslim leader of Hyderabad Maulana Aquil Husami to remark that, ‘we have never seen such a chief minister.’

He had also sanctioned a Rs.2,000 crore special package for the development of Old City. YSR was also instrumental in solving the issue of sanctioning houses for the ex-servicemen of the old Hyderabad Army. This problem had been languishing in cold storage for more than forty years until YSR revived it at the urging of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen. He enjoyed a close relationship with the AIMIM and most of his minority development projects were urged on by the latter’s leadership.

However, despite his close relationship with the Muslims YSR’s government’s actions were not always in tune with the sentiments of the community. His government was unable to control the reckless actions by the police in the aftermath of the Makkah Masjid bomb blasts. Many innocent Muslim youth were rounded up for apparently no fault of their own. He was similarly unable to prosecute the perpetrators of the Bhainsa riots last year who had burned a Muslim family to death. Many blamed his then home minister for the lapse but being the CM he was also held partly responsible.

YSR also did not take any effective measures to improve and groom the Muslim leadership in the Congress party. Last elections saw two Congress stalwarts Fareeduddin and Ali Shabbir losing their seats. In the case of Fareeduddin it was alleged by some that he was deliberately denied a seat in his hometown and moved to Hyderabad where he lost to a BJP candidate. It was alleged that YSR had done so at the urging of a mining tycoon from Karnataka who had wanted the lone BJP member in Andhra Pradesh to reclaim his seat. (http://chiru.in/2009/03/29/ysr-supporting-bjp-kishan-reddy/)

In earlier allegations, YSR was also accused of trucking in rioters, during the reign of the late Chief Minister Chenna Reddy, from Rayalaseema to foment communal trouble in the Old City. The supposed motive was to create instability in the Chenna Reddy government. He always denied it and was given a clean chit by an enquiry commission.

Whatever the veracity of such accusations the YSR in the role of the Chief Minister has been a friend for the Muslim community—warts and all. It remains to be seen how the new Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh will tread the path paved by YSR or digress from it. If YSR’s son Jaganmohan Reddy assumes the office then one expects that he continues his father’s legacy. Jaganmohan Reddy is also on friendly terms with AIMIM’s leadership.