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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Bengal, Centre spar over OBC status for Muslims

Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, August 22, 2013
First Published: 11:31 IST(22/8/2013) | Last Updated: 11:40 IST(22/8/2013)

A fresh tension seems to be brewing between the Union and West Bengal governments over the Centre’s reluctance to include within a central notification all the Muslim groups identified by the state government as belonging to the Other Backward Class (OBC) category.

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After the Mamata Banerjee government included 86 Muslim groups under the OBC, it had been insisting that the Central government to do the same under its notification so that all these groups can enjoy reservations in central government jobs as well as during admission in educational institutes controlled by the latter.

However, sources in the state government said that despite reminding the Union government at least five times about this, there has hardly been any reaction from the central government-appointed commission, which recommends the groups that would be included in the OBC category in the notification.

The major Muslim groups (in terms of profession) who have been identified as belonging to the OBC by the Bengal government include jolas (weavers),chashis (farmers), napits (barbers) and rajmistris (masons), among others.

“After repeated reminders, the officials of the commission appointed by the central government came here and completed the hearing for only 44 groups.

But that is all and there has been no further communication from the Union government on this count.

In fact, there has been no indication from them on when the hearing for the remaining groups would be completed,” said a state government official who was aware of the process.

In case, sources add, the Union government ultimately does not identify these groups in the OBC category under the notification, they would not be able to enjoy reservation benefits in central government jobs or during admission to educational institutes.

“In such a situation, such groups will have to remain satisfied with reservation benefits in Bengal government jobs or institutes under the control of the state,” said the official.

However, state government sources admitted that getting all the desired Muslim groups in the OBC category is virtually an impossible proposition.

“Each state has its own set of groups which the government concerned identifies under the OBC category. Now, if the Union government identifies all the groups of all the state government under its notification, it would create an administrative problem,” the official added.


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