[ Wednesday, February 15, 2006 01:48:13 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
RAFIGANJ/PATNA: In an important political move, chief minister Nitish Kumar endorsed the demand for inclusion of Dalit Muslims in the list of Scheduled Caste (SC) along with all facilities available to the SCs.
The endorsement came at a rally of Dalit Muslims organised by the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz in Rafiganj on Tuesday.
On their part, the backward Muslims registered their opposition to religion-based reservations and said socio-economic conditions and not religion should be the basis of reservation.
Pasmanda Mahaz leader Ali Anwar strongly criticised the Rangnath Mishra Commission which is looking into the issue of reservations for the Muslims as a religious group.
The Mahaz fears that the upper castes among the community will be the major beneficiaries if religion, and not socio-economic conditions, is made the basis of reservation.
Speaking as chief guest at the rally, Nitish announced that he had made it clear to Justice Rangnath Mishra that Dalits Muslims must be included in the SC list.
He also said he had made his stand on the issue clear in Parliament.
Nitish said although his party had been voted to power in the state, it was not strong enough to push through the demand for inclusion of Dalit Muslims in the list of SCs, as it required a constitutional amendment and he did not have the numbers in Parliament to effect the same.
He exhorted Dalit Muslims to strengthen his party at the national level so that their demand could be met.
The main demands made by the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz pertain to the inclusion of Muslim washermen, scavengers, Lal Begis, Gadhaiyas, Nat, Bakkho and other such social groups in the list of SCs as their (Dalit Muslims) socio-economic conditions were worse than their Hindu counterparts, who enjoy constitutional protection.
Nitish declared that during his regime no innocent would be implicated in false cases but at the same time no culprit will be allowed to go scot-free.
The CM said now the people of Bihar need not migrate to other states in search of bread because his government was making all efforts to provide them jobs here itself.
He said, "Now people are looking at Bihar and outsiders are exploring possibilities to invest here. The job guarantee scheme will help people in getting work in their villages and districts."
Pointing out that he came to power with the blessings and support of all religions, communities and castes and he has taken a pledge to serve the masses for five years.
"We have got Rs 8,250 crore with which we will be able to give a new direction to the process of progress. Bihar will progress and the smile on the faces of the Pasmanda (backward) Muslims will shine," he said.