NDA's plea to Kalam over Muslim count

NDA stepped up pressure against a Govt-sponsored survey of Muslims in the military, petitioning President APJ Kalam.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 01:01 IST

The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Tuesday stepped up pressure against a government-sponsored survey of Muslims in the military.

Itpetitioned President APJ Kalam to have it immediately halted.

"It's a very serious issue. Nobody has ever thought of holding this kind of an exercise which this (United Progressive Alliance) government has done," former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president LK Advani told reporters after a meeting with Kalam, who is supreme commander of the armed forces.

Advani also termed the survey a "shameless attempt to woo the communal vote".

A seven-member panel appointed by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had in March 2005 asked the armed forces to provide data on the number of Muslims in their ranks, the positions they held and their role in some key operations.

The BJP-led NDA said in its memorandum to the president: "For the committee to start inquiring into religious denominations of the personnel of the armed forces and further probing the kind of postings being given to each one of them is fraught with dangerous consequences."

The army has objected to the survey, saying it would send out wrong signals in what has traditionally been a secular and apolitical organisation.

Indian Army chief Gen JJ Singh reiterated his objection on Monday, saying: "We're an apolitical, secular and professional force. That's the way I would like to look at it."

Rajinder Sachar, a former chief justice of the Delhi High Court who heads the survey team, has defended the exercise, which he said was not limited to the armed forces and covered all government services.

First Published: Feb 14, 2006 22:07 IST