We are a neglected lot even 60 years after independence: AISPLB chief

The All-India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) has demanded separate reservation for the Shias in government services, as well as reserved seats in Parliament and State Assemblies. This demand has been made ahead of the two-day annual session of the Shia Personal Law Board in Lucknow on March 12 and 13.

Still in its nascent stage, the AISPLB was formed in Lucknow in 2005 for furthering the cause of Shia Muslims, whose number, according to estimates worked out by the law board, was more than 5 crore in the country. In Uttar Pradesh, Shias are concentrated largely in Lucknow and Faizabad (the two cities famously associated with the nawabs of Avadh, or Oudh), with a sizeable section also found in Mau, Jaunpur, Varanasi and Azamgarh.

AISPLB president Maulana Mirza Mohd. Athar said the Shia community was a neglected lot even 60 years after independence. “Successive governments in the States and at the Centre have ignored the Shias as if they were not the citizens of the country,” the Maulana told journalists here on Wednesday. He justified the demand for separate reservation, and said that following the step-motherly treatment accorded to them by the governments, the socio-economic condition of the Shias had deteriorated

The Shia Law Board president said constituencies should be reserved for the Shias “in the same spirit under which Dalits had been given separate seats in the Assemblies and Parliament.”

Maulana Athar demanded that the Shias be nominated to the Rajya Sabha and State Legislatures in the manner in which educationists, scholars, artists and sportsmen were nominated by the government.

“We are not demanding a separate law as there is already a law which gave government the authority to nominate persons,” he said.

Maulana Athar regretted that the Shias were virtually absent from Parliament, Assemblies, higher services and the Boards and Commissions.

Political backwardness

The political backwardness of the Shias in India was an area of concern and ought to be addressed immediately.

On the incidents of sectarian violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the AISPLB chairman demanded that the government grant political asylum to Shias who were victims of violence in those countries.

The Maulana added that the facility should be allowed by the Central government till the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan normalised.

Apart from political issues, the Lucknow session will focus on social and religious problems of the Shias.