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Muslims seek quota in jobs, education

By Our Staff Correspondent

JAIPUR OCT. 19. In a new twist to the reservation politics in the run-up to the Assembly elections, the Muslim community in Rajasthan today placed the demand for quota in jobs and education in proportion to its population. Muslims constitute about 11.3 per cent of the State's population.

The Rajasthan Muslim Forum -- an apex organisation of the community's institutions -- raised the demand for the first time at a huge "Ittehad-e-Millat'' (unity of community) public meeting here and asked all political parties to clarify their stand on the issue in their manifestoes for the Assembly polls.

"Reservation for Muslims is the need of the hour because the successive Governments only made half-hearted efforts for their development, leading to their economic and educational backwardness,'' Mohammed Salim, president of the State unit of Jamat-e-Islami Hind, said. Muslims' percentage in services, especially in police and defence, has been constantly declining.

The speakers cited the example of three southern States -- Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala -- where the provision for separate quota for Muslims exists. Muslims have been treated as one of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Karnataka and 4 per cent share in the OBC category has been reserved for them.

A resolution adopted in the meeting called for taking similar measures for Muslims in Rajasthan, while pointing out that the community was at the lowest rung of the ladder, even worse than Dalits, in terms of socio-economic development. "They have no land, no profitable vocations and no resources. Most of them are in menial jobs without any avenues,'' it pointed out.

The Muslim Forum's convenor, Qari Moinuddin, said today's public meeting was only a beginning towards asserting the right in a democratic manner. "We will ask each candidate seeking our vote to promise to work for delivering our legitimate share in governance, education and economic spheres,'' he affirmed.

The noted educationist and Chancellor of the Hamdard University, New Delhi, Syed Hamid, said though reservation could not be a permanent solution to the handicaps, Muslims had no other option because even the backwards among them were not able to compete with the backwards of other communities.

"The percentage of Muslims in State services is abysmally low. There is hardly any representation of the community at key positions,'' Mr. Hamid lamented and called upon Muslims to strive to improve their condition in various sectors. He pointed out that Hamdard University's Study Circle had made a significant contribution towards grooming young students for civil services.

The participants in the convention felt that since reservation had turned into a complicated issue with each community staking its claim and a new aspect of Economically Backward Classes (EBC) added to it, Muslims would be able to get quota for themselves only through political awareness and an active participation in the public life.

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