Home Articles The real story of Muslim under-representation in Bihar

The real story of Muslim under-representation in Bihar

By Soroor Ahmed, TwoCircles.net,

There is a perception among some Muslims that except riot-free Bihar they did not get much in the last 25 years of the government led by Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi and Nitish Kumar––the last named ran the government in alliance with the BJP in the first seven and a half years. Often the example of under-representation is highlighted to create the impression that nothing has been done in this period for the largest minority of the state.

The perception, at least in case of Bihar, is not fully true. The situation here was better than in other states. But some disgruntled elements and those Muslim aspirants, who are not hopeful of getting tickets of Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress are quick to magnify this problem.

These vested interest talks of under-representation in Bihar when the fact is that in about a dozen states of the country there is one or no Muslim MLAs––not to speak of MPs.

Bihar Legislative Assembly (Courtesy: patrika)

In all 17 Muslims got elected in Bihar in the last Assembly election held in 2010, when JD(U) and BJP contested the poll together. This was certainly not in proportion to their population. But now the equation has changed and JD(U) and RJD have joined hands. And who is not aware of the fact that during the 15 years of Lalu Prasad-Rabri Devi rule Bihar had largest number of Muslim MPs and MLAs.

For years the state had Muslim Speaker of Assembly or Chairman of the Legislative Council, not to speak of holding some crucial portfolios in the cabinet. True, some of these ministers and elected representatives were inefficient and lacked guts yet there were several others who were quite competent. But this is a nation-wide phenomenon.

In 1990 for the first time since independence so many Muslims were posted as thana incharges or Station House Officers.

According to Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI) Report (2004), Bihar had “1756 official of State Administrative Service, of which 178 were Muslims (10.1 per-cent). Likewise, of the 317 officials of State Police Service, 41 were Muslims (12.9 percent).”

The figure may be less in proportion to 16.5 per cent population of Muslims, but then much higher than most states.

In March, 2002, out of 38 districts in Bihar, there were only two with a Muslim District Magistrate and three with a Muslim Superintendent of Police. But then it needs to be noted that the total Muslim DMs and SPs in 595 districts of the country was only 18 (three per cent) and 11 (1.8 per cent) respectively. In that respect Bihar’s proportion was much higher, next only to Jammu and Kashmir––and of course much higher than Asaduddin Owaisi’s the then Andhra Pradesh.

A study of Muslims in different layers of the state Police Administration done in 2002-03 says that there were 35 Muslim Deputy Superintendents of Police out of total strength of 316. Thus it was 11.1 percent for the community.

Out of 444 inspectors, 21 (4.7 per cent) were Muslims; out of 3,408 sub-inspectors 273 (8.0 per cent) were Muslims; out of 606 Reserve Sub-Inspector 31 (5.1 per cent) were Muslims; out of 3,051 Assistant Sub-Inspector 295 (9.7 per cent) were Muslims; out of 4,018 Havildars 635 (16.0 per cent) were Muslims; out of 32,868 constables 2,575 (7.8 per cent) were Muslims and out of 7,221 Bihar Military Police personnel 562 (7.8 per cent) were Muslims.

About 22 per cent of lecturers appointed during the Lalu era were Muslims. Almost similar was the proportion of school teachers; though the percentage of sub-inspectors appointed was less. The new policy adopted by the Bihar Public Service Commission increased the percentage of Bihar Administrative Service and Police Officers.

In heydays of Lalu era as high as something between 20 and 25 per cent of sub-divisional officers (SDOs) used to be Muslims.

All the above are hard facts and not the figment of imagination of leaders like Akhtar-ul-Iman, who after having found all the doors closed has embarked on a divisive agenda of misguiding the community youth in the name of under-representation.

True the secular governments failed to give adequate representation––though they were higher than other states––still the riot-free atmosphere helped Muslims migrate elsewhere to India and abroad and do business all over the country.

So the two top foreign remittance earning districts of Bihar––Siwan and Gopalganj––have a sizeable Muslim population.

Similarly, much has been written about Bhagalpur riots of 1989. True not all the victims got compensation and not all the culprits punished. Yet more than 300 rioters got punished during the Lalu-Rabri era and some more during the Nitish rule.

May one ask as to how many rioters got punished after the Bombay riots of 1992-93 or after any other communal violence all over the country, including Hyderabad. And how many Muslims got compensation?

(Soroor Ahmed is a senior journalist based in Patna.)