New Delhi, May 29 (IMI) Gujarat continues to be a Hindutva lab where Muslims and other marginalized community are driven out of the social mainstream by violence and government schemes. Gujarat local governments, it seems, are always working to improve their tools of discrimination. The latest tool in their hands is the rural employment guarantee scheme started by the Central Government. The Indian Express in its latest edition reports that Muslims are deliberately kept out of the various rural employments guarantee schemes.
In the first of the three-part series its reporter Janyala Sreenivas reports that this discrimination is severe in areas which are the worst-hit in anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002. In hundred of job cards issued there are no Muslim names even though many Muslims live in these villages. Official put the blame on Muslims for living on the fringes of the villages and not contacting them to find out about the schemes.
Muslims contacted by the Indian Express reveals a different picture, of officials and local panchayats misleading them and not giving them information about the schemes. It was not only communal bias in enrolling people in these employment guarantee programs but the report suggests caste discrimination as well. In Delol village all names in the job register is of upper-caste Rathods even though the village has other Dalit and SC/STs communities. According to the sarpanch Vilasben Shah "all the SC/STs and Dalits are happy with their menial jobs."
The report did mention that situation is much better when Muslims have representation in local panchayats, but these are few and far between. Without a proper monitoring mechanism these schemes are open to influence and abuse by the local authorities. This gives additional tools in the hands of Sangh Parivar to further alienate Muslims and other marginalized communities.
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