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Welcoming Bihar caste census, JIH demands census at national level, condemns police action on NewsClick and journalists

– Anwarulhaq Baig

New Delhi, Oct. 04, 2023: Welcoming the Bihar Caste-based census, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has demanded conducting it at the national level to get the latest and comprehensive data concerning marginalized and underprivileged sections of society.

Speaking at the monthly press briefing held at the JIH headquarters here on Wednesday, JIH Vice President Prof. Mohammed Salim Engineer stated that the results of the Bihar Caste Survey showed how the population size and current reservations offered were disproportionate.

According to the survey findings, released by the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar on Monday, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) accounting for 27%, and Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs), making up 36%, together constitute 63% of the state’s total population. The survey also finds that Yadavs (OBC) constitute 14.27% of the population, while Dalits (Scheduled Castes) make up 19.65%. Scheduled Tribes comprise 1.68%, and the “unreserved” category accounts for 15.52% of the total population.

Suggesting that benefits and reservations should be in tune with the size of the population of the respective social class, Prof. Salim emphasized that a caste census was essential to fairly extend the benefits of reservations in educational institutes and government jobs, based on caste identities, as well as to help policymakers plan better policies and more accurate welfare programs.

Terming the apprehensions about the caste census potentially promoting caste-based political mobilization and social division as unfounded and misplaced, Prof. Salim underlined that the fundamental issue was justice and equity, and to address it a nationwide caste census is need of the hour.

Census data has been collected for SCs, STs, religions, and linguistic profiles. However, the latest updated census data on the various castes in the country at the national level is unavailable because the last such survey took place in 1931.

Calling for the disqualification of BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri from both Parliament and the party, due to his use of highly offensive and abusive language against BSP MP Kunwar Danish Ali in the Lok Sabha, the JIH Vice President described it not only as a grave violation of parliamentary dignity but also tantamount to a hate crime that denigrated the entire Muslim community.

Expressing surprise over the unfortunate silence the Prime Minister has maintained on the matter, Prof. Salim pointed out that using racial slurs against a Member of Parliament by targeting his religious identity to humiliate and berate him and his religion was not only shocking and distasteful but also criminal. He described it as not only a natural outcome of the sustained narrow jingoistic ultra-nationalism practiced by those in power, which thrives on the othering of citizens such as Muslims, Dalits, and Adivasis, but also as a disclosure of the blatant Islamophobia breeding within many members of the ruling dispensation.

Condemning the Police raids on the residences of journalists and other NewsClick staff, JIH National Secretary KK Suhail pointed out that the raids targeted those who were the most vocal and critical of the government’s policies.

According to media reports, homes of persons including Abhisar Sharma, Bhasha Singh, Urmilesh, and NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha, Githa Hariharan, Aunindyo Chakravarty, historian Sohail Hashmi, satirist Sanjay Rajaura, CPI leader Sitaram Yechury, activist Teesta Setalvad, and veteran journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta were raided by the Delhi Police yesterday. An FIR has been registered against journalists linked with the news portal under the anti-terror law UAPA and the IPC.

Commenting that the hounding of the media by the government is not something new, Mr. Suhail called it an attempt to silence voices critical of the policies of the ruling dispensation.

Urging all justice-loving people as well as media bodies to condemn the move and raise their voices in solidarity with what he called the ‘guardians of democracy,’ Mr. Suhail asserted that such intimidation tactics deployed against journalists go against the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India and weaken the democracy.

Expressing concerns over the growing incidents of mob lynching of Muslims and cases of sexual violence against women, JIH Vice President Malik Motasim Khan cited several incidents, including mob lynching of innocent Muslim youth Israr in Delhi’s Sundar Nagari for allegedly consuming prasad from a nearby Ganesh Pandal, and the merciless beating of 17-year-old Iqbal in Jaipur after learning that he was Muslim.

Calling such incidents results of the influence of communal poison being spread in the country, Mr. Khan commented that there was a systematic campaign by anti-democratic and communal forces to weaken Muslims economically, ghettoize them geographically, disempower them politically, and create a rift and hatred against them at the social level.

Citing horrific details, such as a minor girl in Ujjain who was raped and dumped, went door to door, and received no help for hours, Mr. Khan said that it showed the extreme selfishness and complete absence of compassion in society. He stressed the need for moral reform in society and a comprehensive solution to the problem of sexual crimes against women, along with stringent laws, speedy trials, and exemplary punishment for rapists. “Unless the values of ‘fear of God’ and ‘accountability’ in the Hereafter are inculcated in people, the sexual exploitation of women will continue to plague humanity,” he added.

Speaking about the recent legislation that reserved 33% of seats for women in both Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies, JIH National Secretary Mrs. Rahmathunnissa said that the new law was a positive step to improve women’s representation, which should have been implemented earlier. However, she criticized the law for not addressing the stark social inequalities in a vast country like India, as it excludes women from OBCs and Muslim women, calling it an injustice to the Muslim women who made significant sacrifices during the struggle for Independence. She also criticized it for not offering reservations to women in the Rajya Sabha and the State Legislative Councils, as well as for the fact that its benefits would only be accrued after 2029.


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