BY: MOHAMMAD SHAHANSHAH ANSARI
Indian Dalit Muslims’ Voice (IDMV) was launched on July 22, 2008 to provide a platform to discuss issues concerning India’s Dalit Muslims. The main objective of IDMV is to secure a constitutional amendment for the inclusion of Dalit Muslims in the SC/ST category, a right which is denied to them under a Presidential order of 1950.
IDMV’s Aims and Objectives:
· We demand a constitutional amendment for the inclusion of Dalit Muslims in the SC/ST category, which is presently denied to them under a Presidential order 1950. This order, issued under Article 341 of the Constitution, is discriminatory on the ground of religion in that certain Hindu castes have been declared as Scheduled Castes whereas their Muslim counterparts have been discriminated against and denied the status of Scheduled Castes. This is an open violation of Articles 14 (equality before the law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion) and 25 (freedom to profess and practice any religion) of the Constitution.
· We call for the issuing of a writ mandamus commanding the Union of India to identify and include the Muslim Arzals or Muslim Dalit groups such as like Nutt, Bakkho, Bhatiyara, Kunjra, Dhunia, Kalal, Dafali, Halakhor, Dhobi, Lalbegi, Gorkan, Meershikar, Cheek, Rangrz, Darji, Mochis, Mukris and Garudis etc. in the category of Scheduled Castes mentioned in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950.
· Although Islam and Christianity do not recognise the caste system, unlike Hinduism, the reality is that caste and caste-based discrimination prevail amongst India’s Muslims and Christians also, with a difference in degree. The position of Dalit Muslims is no better than that of the Dalit Hindus. Except for congregational prayers, they remain ostracized and isolated. They are economically very poor. Educationally, they are extremely marginalised. Socially, they are despised, humiliated and looked down upon. In some places, the general Muslims hesitate to share food with them even during festivals like Eid. We demand that the Govt. of India take appropriate measures to stop this practice of untouchability that the Dalit Muslims are made a victim of.
· Political empowerment for Dalit /OBC Muslims is the need of the hour. For this, we demand that the Govt. of India ensure their adequate representation in various Commissions, Govt. Organizations and in Muslim Organizations. Secular parties must give tickets to them so that their voices can be heard in the corridor of power. Emphasis should be given on due representation of Dalit and OBC Muslims in all respects and in all walks of life.
· We strive persistently for getting reservation for Dalit Muslims and OBC Muslims separately. The Central as well as State governments should be forced to amend the Constitution and pass suitable legislation for this. A clear and strong stand should be followed on the Reservation issue. We should not be confused and misguided by others with the false argument that the unity among Muslims will be harmed by reservations for Dalit Muslims. It should be clear that the foundation of Unity does not exist at all when a major chunk of people suffer from socio-economic, educational and political backwardness. These issues are sensitive and should not be compromised on.
· For promoting the education and health of the Dalit and OBC Muslims, new government-funded development projects are necessary, for generally the existing projects and schemes leave them out. A separate quota for these groups must be set aside and adhered to strictly.
· Steps should be taken to put an end to the caste system among Muslims and encourage inter-caste marriages. Islam gives equal status to women. This must also be put into practice and suitable social reforms be instituted to undo the damage of patriarchy.
· To provide a definite and explicit voice to the Indian Dalit Muslims by articulating their concerns and distress and promoting their growth and development while synchronizing and maintaining a harmonious relationship with all other Indians.
· To establish a true and genuine Indian Dalit Muslim standpoint on various matters of concern on the national front.
To galvanise support for, and awareness about, these issues we have launched a website http://www.dalitmuslims.com You are invited to send us articles and comments on any issues concerning the Dalit and OBC Muslims of India. For any queries regarding posting of articles relating to Dalit and OBC Muslims on this website, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or Shahanshah.email@example.com.