Muslims from across the state assembled at Satyagraha Chhavani grounds in Gandhinagar on Tuesday to protest against their “neglect” by the state government. The event coincided with the United Nations International Minority Rights Day.
The organisers of the protest — Minority Coordination Committee (MCC) of Gujarat — had earlier announced gherao of the state Assembly but they dropped the plan at the last moment as the Gandhinagar police and the district administration did not give permission.
Addressing the gathering on Tuesday, MCC coordinator Mujahid Nafees said that the committee would gherao the Assembly during its Winter Session or the Budget Session to draw the government’s attention towards the plight of the Muslims in the state.
He alleged that he was asked over phone by the police to not gherao the Assembly and also remove the words “Gherao of Gujarat Vidhan Sabha’’ from their posters and banners. “This indicated the fear and panic in the state administration and the ruling political party (BJP). But, we decided to keep these words in our banners to remind the administration and political bosses in the state that they cannot neglect the constitutional rights of the Muslims,” he told the gathering.
Alleging that rumours were spread that there would be police lathicharge and firing on those who would turn up for Tuesday’s programme, Nafees said: “Despite this (rumours), people came for the protest, proving they are not scared of seeking their constitutional rights’’, he said.
As the protest event coincided with the United Nations International Minority Rights Day, of which India is also a signatory, Nafees announced to hold such functions in all districts in the state from next year to create awareness among the state’s minority communities, particularly Muslims, about their rights and how to demand their legitimate rights from the authorities.
He said that Gujarat was the only state without a state minority ministry and a state minority commission. “There is also no financial allocation in the state’s budget for minorities. There is zero implementation of the Centre’s minority programmes in Gujarat. Is it not unconstitutional?’, he asked.
Stating that the government’s slogan of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’’ is hollow as far as Muslims are concerned, he said that the drop-out rate of Muslim girls in Gujarat was 10.58 per cent from Class I to V but the state government was not doing anything about it.
Stating that the claim of the BJP government that Gujarat had become riots-free after 2002 is not factual, he said: “Earlier, large scale riots took place. But now small-scale riots at local level are taking place As riots are small, they also don’t get media attention’’, he alleged.
Nafees demanded setting up of government schools in Muslim areas and Rs 1,000 crore annual allocation for development of Muslim areas from the state’s annual budget, implementation of Prime Minister’s 15-point programme in toto to uplift the conditions of the Muslims, recognising the ‘madrasa’ degrees equivalent to Class X of the Gujarat State Education Board to promote secular education among Muslims, setting up of Ministry of Minority Affairs and State Minority Commission.
Shafi Madani, president of the Gujarat unit of the All India Muslim Majlis Mushawarat, an umbrella body of all shades of Muslims, said whether it was the BJP or the Congress, both had neglected the Muslims.
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