The 10 percent quota in government jobs for backward Muslims in West
Bengal is being welcomed by leaders of the community who say it's
not really enough but add that something is better than nothing.
Abdul Hamid Nomani of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind described the move as
a "step in the right direction" for the welfare of backward Muslims
in West Bengal.
"But it is not enough considering the
pathetic socio-economic situation of Muslims (in the state).
Nonetheless something is better than nothing," Nomani, the Jamiat
spokesperson, told IANS.
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind is one of the
leading Islamic organisations in India founded in 1919 with its
organisational network spread all over India.
The Communist government in West
Bengal Monday announced 10 percent reservation in government jobs
for other backward classes among Muslims.
The move comes years after a
government appointed committee observed that in West Bengal where 25
percent population is Muslim, their share in government jobs was a
paltry 4.2 percent.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP), on expected lines, has criticised the announcement, saying it
was unconstitutional to give reservations on religion lines.
But Nomani differs. He said backward
classes among Muslims can be granted the quota on their
socio-economic status as it was legally possible.
"We need to invoke article 341 of the
Indian constitution," he said referring to the act that gives the
president of India an authority after taking the advice of the
governor of any state or union territory, to demarcate tribes, races
or castes or a part of any group as Scheduled Castes, in accordance
with the law of the constitution.
"We are not demanding quota for all
Muslims. Muslims who enjoy a decent life and form a creamy layer
don't need it and should be exempted. It should be reserved for
those who need it the most," he said.
Former MP Syed Shahabuddin of the
Delhi-based National Movement for Muslim Reservation (NMMR) said it
was an "epoch-making" initiative.
"The NMMR welcomes it and facilitates
the West Bengal government. Though more needs to be done but it is
better than not being done anything at all," Shahabuddin said.
The West Bengal government's
announcement came on a day when in Hyderabad, the Andhra Pradesh
High Court quashed a state law providing four percent jobs to
certain identified backward classes among Muslims.
"That was unexpected. Some
fundamentalist parties are opposing it to secure their vote banks.
What else does the government need to prove Muslims are under
represented and their economic condition is pathetic and much below
than the national average," Nomani said.
termed the high court ruling as "unfortunate and deplorable".
"The judgment quashes the Andhra
Pradesh act as being religion-specific and potentially an
encouragement to conversion. The reference to conversion shows a
streak of Hindutva mentality and is absolutely irrelevant," he said.
"The court", he added, "Has ignored
the fact that under Article 15(1) reservation may be
religion-specific or caste-specific or race-specific or
language-specific if the social group concerned passes the test of