EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE ,Posted online: Friday, February 24, 2006 at 0203 hours IST
PATNA, FEBRUARY 23: A meeting convened by the high power Sachar Committee today to identify solutions for the social, economic and educational backwardness of India’s Muslims culminated in fists and blows over the issue of reservations for the minority community. Around half a dozen persons were injured in the clash.
Four members of the committee—constituted by the Centre to study the blockages that afflict Muslim society and to suggest steps to remove them— were here to hold meetings with different Muslim bodies and individuals. Tensions ran high when the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaj, an organisation championing the cause of Dalit Muslims, demanded that reservation to Muslims should be based on caste and not on religion. Mahaj president Ali Anwar argued that as among the Hindus, caste-based backwardness also exists in Muslim society. If reservations were extended to the Muslim community as a whole, then only the upper castes or the affluent would end up benefitting, he alleged.
This view was vehemently opposed by another group which wants the Muslim community as a whole to get reservations. They argued that caste distinction was against Islam and stressed that the community in its entirety was backward. This led to angry protests from both sides—finally the meeting turned into a battle ground, with even chairs and flower pots being hurled in the attack. Anwar went on to allege that everything was pre-planned by State Minority Welfare secretary Aashiq Ibrahimi to throttle the voice of Dalit Muslims. He demanded a high-level probe into the incident and later boycotted the meeting.
‘‘The pre-planned attack has proved how upper castes among Muslims are trying to suppress Dalit Muslims,’’ he said. ‘‘We will continue our struggle and will not allow affluent Muslims to take advantage of reservation.’’
For his part, Aashiq Ibrahimi denied the allegation and instead charged that the violence was started by the Mahaj members. Sociologist, Dr S F Rab, who attended the meeting termed the incident unfortunate and said it was regrettable that the core issue of the minority community’s backwardness had been hijacked.
‘Take steps to curb crime’
PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday reviwed the performance of his government during his three months in office, at a meeting of Divisional Commissioners and District Magistrates.
Reiterating his determination to improve law and order, Kumar held DMs more responsible than SPs in maintaining law and order. He asked DMs to initiate steps to curb crime and criminals.