For Muslim organisations raising the demand for reservation in education and jobs, Home Minister P. Chidambaram's inaugural address at Wednesday's meeting of the State Minorities Commissions will be an event to watch out for.
On the agenda of the day-long conference are a host of issues including reservation, the communal violence Bill and minority welfare schemes. The guest of honour will be Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed.
While the State Commissions meet annually, this year the meeting is being held in the backdrop of the growing Muslim demand for an exclusive 10 per cent quota in education and jobs, as recommended by the Ranganath Misra Commission. Indeed, almost as a prequel to the conference, an umbrella group of Muslim organisations held a press meet here on Tuesday, underscoring the urgency of implementing reservation.
The organisations said they were prepared to discuss the modalities of implementation, including whether or not to bar the creamy layer, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and political parties, warning at the same time that their patience was running out and they would no longer tolerate being placated by false promises.
Those present at the meet included representatives of the Jamat-e-Islami Hind, the Jamat-e-Ulma-e Hind, the Markazi Jamiat Ahel-e-Hadith, the All-India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, the Indian Islahi Movement and the Muslim Political Council of India.
Speaking on behalf of the organisations, S.Q.R. Ilyas emphasised that they were opposed to Muslims being accommodated within the 27 per cent OBC quota.
He said the backwardness of the community had been established twice over — first by the Sachar Committee, which concluded that Muslim deprivation levels almost equalled those of the Scheduled Castes, and now by the Ranganath Misra Commission, which, recognising extreme Muslim backwardness, recommended a 10 per cent quota exclusively for the community.
Dr. Ilyas emphasised that the organisations were not making a communal demand but were simply making the case that Muslims as a whole were backward and entitled to reservation under the “socially and educationally” backward category.
However, since accommodating the entire community might not be constitutionally feasible, the organisations were willing to discuss modalities of excluding the “creamy layer” from the quota ambit.
“But we will not be made fools this time,” he said, adding the Muslim organisations were prepared for an extended struggle, including raising the quota issue in upcoming State elections and launching a nationwide movement.