By: Mohammad Shahanshah Ansari
Akhil Maharastra Khatik Samaj has lodged PIL in Supreme Court “seeking parity based constitutional relief for the Muslim counterparts of the Hindu Scheduled Castes.” It challenges the vires and constitutionalism of the para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled caste) Order, 1950 which denies the recognisition of Muslim castes under Scheduled Castes but issues said status to their Hindu counterparts.
Haji Shamsuddin Shaikh, Chairman Akhil Maharashtra Muslim Khatik Samaj told IDMV that in the meeting held at Pune on 10th June 2009, the petitioners of Dalit Muslim case decided to meet the PM, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and social justice minister Shri Mukul Wasnik, to demand justice, and to request to file the answer in supreme court on the basis of Rangnath Mishra Commission report as they promised before election. They are also planning to meet all Dalit/OBCs leaders.
Basically the Dalit Muslims are deprived of the status of Scheduled Castes on the ground that “there is no caste system in egalitarian Islam whereas the uncomfortable reality is that the Indian Muslim social milieu is caste based not scripturally but practically.”
Ironically, the issue of the Scheduled Tribes is delinked from religion, but the issue of Scheduled Castes is specifically linked with religion. Here also, the order discriminates with Islam and Cristianity by providing Scheduled Castes convert to Sikhism reservation when Sikhism too does not allow caste system and no proof is adduced till date that even after conversion to Sikhism the same caste disability and the former customs and traditions continues. Same is the case with Budhists.
The mentioned Constitution (Schedules Castes) order 1950 itself, by nature, is discriminatory on grounds of religion and is hit by Article 15 (1),(2) and 16 (1), (2) of the Constitution of India), Article 14, Article 341 and Caste Disabilities Removal Act, 1850 where all prohibit discrimination based on religion, among similar groups, forfeiture of rights in case of conversion and practice of reasonableness in a broader sense. The PIL outlines that the said order is also anti-secular by quoting Article 25, 26, and 29 (2).
This PIL categorise Mulism into three groups “(1) those without any social disabilities the ashraf (2) those equivalent to Hindu OBCs the ajlafs and (3) those equivalent to Hindu SCs the arzals.” The PIL further concludes that Arzals (Muslim Dalits), Hindu Dalits and Christian Dalits are one and the same. “Because though the religions of Islam and Christianity do not recognise caste system like Hindus but reality is that it prevails amongst them also with a difference in degree.”
The humiliation, discrimination and backwardness socially, economically and educationally continue to exist even after conversion to Islam and Christianity. Considering this the PIL calls the exclusion of Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians as unconstitutional when all three carry on the same so called Dirty Jobs.
The PIL states the example of Khatiks, Hindu butchers who have been declared as Scheduled Castes but Muslim Khatiks , Kasai, butchers and Bakar Kasab, differentiated only by names and titles, are denied of the same right in spite of carrying on the same profession and being at par socially, economically , educationally with Hindu Khatiks.
Even National Commission for minorities and the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities are in support of recognizing Dalit Muslims at par with Dalit Christians.
We, here at IDMV support fully Akhil Maharastra Khatik Samaj and wish them luck for their next hearing which is due on 31st July 2009. We appreciate and applaud at their sincere effort for taking this strong step to demand their rights and hope that their voices are heard and venture is recognized so that Dalit Muslims get justice as soon as possible.