By Alok Mohit
PATNA: Leaders of various backward Muslim organisations on Saturday demanded inclusion of Pasmanda Muslims within the ambit of the Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989, commonly known as the SC/ST Act.
Addressing a Press conference here, Backward Muslim Morcha (BMM) national president Kamal Ashraf Rayeen, United Muslim Morcha (UMM) national spokesperson Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar and Dalit Muslim Movement (DMM) leader Mushtaque Azad said this move would not only provide enhanced security to the Pasmanda community but also contribute to communal harmony in the country.
In his address, Sarwar said Pasmanda Muslims, who constituted a significant 85% of the total Indian Muslim population, had historically voted on the issue of security. “In 75 years of India’s Independence, Pasmanda Muslims have primarily been concerned with safeguarding their rights and safety. During this period, political parties, particularly the Congress and Samajwadis (Socialists), have garnered Pasmanda Muslim support by positioning themselves as champions of security,” he said. However, Sarwar said this sense of security had often been breached whenever right-wing governments came to power.
Kamal Ashraf said a majority of Indian Muslims (85%) could be considered the “mahasevak” of the nation, as they were engaged in works such as garbage collection, tyre repair, poultry and meat trade, sewing and weaving. “These occupations contribute significantly to society and ensure the self-sufficiency of the Pasmanda community. However, communal violence disrupts these chains of livelihood, impacting the entire Indian society,” he added.
Azad stressed on the effectiveness of the SC/ST Act in controlling social violence in Indian society. “If Pasmanda Muslims are considered equivalent to depressed classes and incorporated into the Special Act alongside Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, it could potentially serve as a deterrent against communal violence,” he addded.
The Muslim morcha leaders urged the Union government to introduce a Bill in the upcoming special parliamentary session for the inclusion of Pasmanda Muslims in the SC/ST Act. “This move would provide greater security to the Pasmanda community and also enhance its political representation, which would be advantageous for the Narendra Modi government,” they said.
(Author Alok Mohit is former senior News Editor of Hindustan Times Patna and Chandigarh editions; can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)