Mumbai: On the second day of the winter session of the State legislature, there was an uproar in the House over the quota issue. Clearly, Muslims, who constitute a sizeable percentage of the state’s population, are upset that the Maratha community is about to get reservation in education and government jobs, a benefit that they feel they also deserve.
This sentiment was predominant during the assembly session on Tuesday, when the issue of reservation for Marathas and Dhangars was raised in the Lower House. Disgruntled Muslim legislators from across party lines reached the well and lifted the mace from the dais of the pro tem Speaker Subhash Sabane, twice, and demanded their own suspension.
In frustration, Congress legislator Abdul Sattar also declared Muslims would have no option but to become terrorists, if the government continues to ignore them. Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and leader of the Nationalist Congress Party Ajit Pawar also raised the Maratha quota issue, while senior most legislator Ganpatrao Deshmukh of the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) raised the Dhangar issue.“When no one was ready to speak about Muslim reservation, we, the Muslim legislators, turned the spotlight of the House on the quota issue,” said Sattar.
Along with Sattar, who represents the Sillod constituency, Aslam Shaikh from Malad (W), Asif Shaikh from Malegaon Central, (all Congress MLAs), Abu Asim Azmi of Samajwadi Party from Mankhurd and Waris Pathan of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) from Byculla constituency, reached the well.
Apart from Muslim MLAs, Satish Patil, a non-Muslim MLA from Erandol, also reached the well in a show of solidarity. They lifted the mace and demanded reservation for the community on the same grounds as were considered for awarding the concession to Marathas. “The Sachar and Mehmood-Ur-Rehman committees had vouched the social and economic backwardness of Muslims and had recommended five per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
When, on the same grounds, the BJP government is ready to grant a slice of the quota pie to the Marathas, why is there no justice for Muslims?” questioned Sattar.Meanwhile, speaking with the Free Press Journal, Sattar said, “We are not asking for quota on religious grounds. But the BJP government is deliberately denying us reservation.”He added, “I am not against Marathas. But, Kunbis and Leva Patils, the sub-caste of Marathas, are already getting 20 per cent quota under the Other Backward Class (OBC). Now, they are expected to get 16 per cent quota. This means, Marathas, who constitute 32 per cent of the state’s population, will get 36 per cent reservation.
On the other hand, Muslims must fight for their legitimate rights.”“Only 13 per cent of Muslims are able to complete their education. There is no provision for higher education through Urdu medium and no opportunities for Urdu-speaking people, when it comes to employment. We cannot start self-financed schools as insisted upon by the state. If this state of affairs continues, Muslims will have no option but to become terrorists,” said Sattar.