The state government’s pioneering 25-point action plan for putting an end to the plight of 2.5 crore Muslims in the wake of the Justice R Sachar committee report has been a non-starter. It has hit several roadblocks, as funds cannot be allocated exclusively for the welfare of Muslims under the Constitution.
But most of the 35 departments directly associated with the implementation of the action plan have not even cared to respond with their respective initiatives and action programmes. Such concrete action plans for spending 30 per cent of the respective departmental budgetary allocations for the development of Muslim-dominated blocks, villages and urban clusters would have helped achieve the desired goals without circumventing the Constitutional provisions.
For example, a time-bound and specific actions plan is imperative for setting up new IITs and polytechnics in predominantly minority-inhabited areas.
The State’s first Bengali Muslim IPS officer from minority community and presently the IG, Enforcement Branch, Nazrul Islam has rightly contended that Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur has not got a single specialized institution of repute for vocational and technical training. These three districts have Muslim population of 63.7, 49.7 and 47.4 per cent respectively.
Access to primary education by Muslims is also appalling. Nazrul Islam writes in a collection of essays compiled by SM Samsuddin says that 2001 Census Report recorded 50.3 per cent of Muslims having education up to primary level. This is much lower than the SCs and STs at 54.4 per cent and 80.4 per cent amongst upper caste Hindus and backward castes.
Also, while the SCs and STs enjoy reservation facility in school and college admissions, Murshidabad district has one primary school for a population of 1,851. But Purulia with the lowest Muslim population of 7.12 per cent (out of the State’s total of 25.25 per cent) has one primary school for 852 persons, Nazrul Islam argues.
While Forward Bloc leader and a former Minister, Hafiz Alam Sairani has observed that Sachar committee report has vividly brought out the ‘heartrending conditions of Muslims, Land & land Reforms Minister, AR Mollah laments that no Muslim sits on the 13-member State Planning Board.
The government’s stress on recruitment of more Muslims in government and semi-government sector bears out the truth. Muslims account for only 4.7 per cent of the government employees, and their presence among Group C and D employees (sweepers, peons and guards) is 2.1 and 2.5 per cent respectively.
The need for primary health centres and preventive, maternal and child healthcare facilities in Muslim-dominated villages across the State cannot be ignored. Sachar committee has revealed that Muslims account for only 13.8 per cent among recipients of free mid-day meal for mothers with children of up to six months under the integrated child development scheme. In Gujarat, Muslims total 31.7 per cent on this count.