By Mujahid Nafees*
On the Minority Rights Day, December 17, a meeting was held at Ahmedabad to discuss the issues of minorities in Gujarat. It was suggested at the meeting that no redresser mechanism for minority rights violations has been created, one reason why one has to to go through a long system of courts for redressal. While newspapers do have carry articles on minority rights violations, their rights are not recognized at the official level.
I have filed a case before the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on discrimination against Urdu schools on the Sardar Patel Jayanti day. The commission issued a notice to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to file his written statement within 21 days. If we had a state commission in Gujarat, one need not have to go to the NCM. With a state commission, more cases can be filed in Gujarat itself. This is a major issue for the minorities of Gujarat.
The second issue related to Muslims in Gujarat is that there is no recognition to madarsa degrees. We all know very well that very high number of poor Muslim children go to madarsas for education. As they spend most of their early part of life in madarsa, they get dthe egree of Alim, Fazil etc,, but there is no equivalent recognition of this with the state board. There is a need for a madarsa education board for conducting examinations to grant equivalent recognition to their degrees.
According to 2011 population census, the population of religious minorities in Gujarat was 11.5% of the total population. Muslims the largest minority group in the state with approximately 9.7% of population. They fare poorly on parameters of poverty, hunger, education and vulnerability on security issues.
Status of Muslims in Gujarat
Urban poverty among the state’s Muslims is eight times more than high caste Hindus, and 50% more than OBCs. As many as 12% have bank accounts, but their share of total loan amounts is low at 2.6%.
Muslims are educationally deprived: despite 75% of enrolment of Muslim children in primary school, a mere 26% reach matriculation. This is against 79% enrolment of other except SC/STs”, 41% of who make it to matriculate levels.
Muslims barely make it to the work force in the manufacturing and organized sector. While at an all-India level, their share in this sector is 21%; while in Gujarat it is merely 13%,much less than Maharastra and West Bengal.” (Source : “Relative Development of Gujarat and Socio-Religious Differentials”)
The political representation of Muslims in State Legislative Assembly and Parliament is negligible. According to leading English daily “The Hindu” dt. 22nd April 2014, there has been no parliamentarian from Gujarat since 1984 from Muslim community. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election there was no Muslim candidate for the 26 Lok Sabha seats fielded by BJP. There was only one Muslim candidate fielded by Congress in the 2014 elections.
The total funds disbursed by the National Minorities Finance Development Corporation (NMFDC) since its inception in September 1994 till 2014 is Rs.2068.93 crore, benefitting 4,28,032 beneficiaries under the programme of Term Loan scheme. Disbursements under the micro-finance scheme since the year 1988 till 2014 has been Rs 767.52 crore, benefitting 6,00,340 beneficiaries (Source: MOMA website).
In Gujarat, since the inception of micro-credit programme of NMDFC during 2007 to 2014, Rs 45 lakh was distributed amongst 402 beneficiaries. The amount disbursed under the Term Loan Scheme was Rs 1328.77 lakh benefitting 2,601 beneficiaries. (Source : MOMA website) .
Under the Multi-Sectoral Development Program (MSDP), Gujarat has declared nine Minority Concentrated Blocks (MCBs) in three different districts. These are Lakhtar, Bhuj and in Abdasa Kutch district; Maliya and Wankaner in Rajkot district; and Jambusar, Amod, and Bharuch in Bharuch district. These blocks more than 25% population of minorities.
The fund allocated under this scheme in the financial year 2014-15 was Rs 2,00,000 and in 2015-16 it is Rs 10,00,00,000 (Source: Response from Social Justice & Empowerment Department to RTI query dated 20th August 2015) However, the fund allocated for development of infrastructure in the minority concentrated blocks is unspent (Source : Response from Vikasti Jati Kalyan Khatu to RTI query of August.31, 2015).
Status of Internally Displaced Persons in Gujarat-2002
Gujarat witnessed the worst carnage since Independence in the year 2002 in which over two lakh Muslim families were displaced from eight districts. As many as 3,380 families still reside in 83 colonies built by various trusts and NGOs. The condition of people displaced due to carnage continues to be deplorable.Some glaring facts regarding IDPs:
Out of the 83 colonies, people residing in 63 colonies do not have houses in their names, 66 colonies do not have internal roads, 64 colonies do not have approach roads, 30 colonies do not street lights, 15 colonies do not have electrification, there is no policy of rehabilitation for people affected by communal conflicts. This has led to people affected by communal tensions living in vulnerable conditions.
The current environment calls for a collaborative efforts with NGOs, government stake-holders, academicians and the community for an equitable development of the community. Some of the issues that call for further discussions and engagement include the following:
- Addressing socio-economic issues of minorities and strategies.
- Understanding of 15 point programme and strategies for its implementation
- Understanding Budgetary allocations for programmes of minorities and influencing the implementation.
*Senior activist, Jan Adhikar Manch, Ahmedabad