Under BJP pressure, Shinde government puts survey of Muslims on hold in Maharashtra

The government had allocated INR 33,92,040 for the survey which was scheduled to begin on September 21, 2022

Under BJP pressure, Shinde government puts survey of Muslims on hold in Maharashtra

The state government of Maharashtra had plans to conduct a survey to gauge the socio-economic status of Muslims residing in 56 Muslim-dominated towns. The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) was tasked with conducting the survey, which was also to study the benefits the Muslim community has reaped from government schemes in sectors such as education, employment, health, and banking. The government had allocated INR 33,92,040 for the survey, which was slated to begin on September 21, 2022, with a government resolution issued by the minorities affairs department.

However, the plans have hit a roadblock as the BJP, the alliance partner, has raised objections to the survey. The party claimed that the government resolution was issued without following due process and without the knowledge of the Chief Minister. Women and child welfare minister and BJP leader, Mangalprabhat Lodha, wrote to the Chief Minister, questioning why other minority communities were not included in the order for the survey. The Chief Minister, who also leads the department of minorities affairs, ordered a stay on the project after the objections were raised.

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This planned survey would have been the first statewide survey on the Muslim community in Maharashtra after the Mehmood-Ur-Rehman committee was set up in 2008. A member of the state-appointed Mohamood Ur Rahman committee stated that the government is obligated by the constitution to address the concerns of minorities. The government could appoint separate groups to study the condition of other minority communities, but there is no need to scrap the project.

The Mehmood-Ur-Rehman committee's findings, submitted in 2013, painted a bleak picture of the socio-economic status of Muslims in Maharashtra. The committee stated that 60% of Muslims in the state were below the poverty line, and their share in government jobs was only 4.4%. The number of graduates in the Muslim community was a mere 2.2%. The committee recommended 8% reservation in state, education, and housing for the Muslim community.

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In 2014, the then Congress-NCP government announced 5% reservation for Muslims in government-run schools, colleges, and jobs. However, the decision was challenged in the Mumbai High Court following which it struck off the 5% reservation clause in jobs, but also said that Muslims should get 5% reservation in education. The BJP government, which came to power in 2014, did not implement reservation, stating that it does not support reservation based on religion.

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