| Muslims at an anti-terrorism protest in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI)
Aug. 22: Muslim leaders who heard Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech yesterday are asking why he has been unable to act on his “good intentions”.
At a meeting of community leaders on terrorism, Singh had told them he “understands” their suffering. Drawing a parallel with what Sikhs went through during the Punjab militancy, he said there was no need to equate terrorism with any community.
But scholars and ulemas are pointing to the UPA regime’s inattentiveness towards “core” issues concerning the Muslim community.
Drawing a long list of areas of neglect, the leaders, including some from the ruling Congress, said it was still not too late to act. Some of the key demands are:
- Replace NDA appointees as heads of the central Haj committee and the Rs 1,000-crore minorities’ financial development corporation
- Bring in a central act to streamline management of waqf properties across the country worth thousands of crores
- Amend law to ensure that Muslim women get inheritance share from agriculture
- Ensure representation of minorities in appointment committees at all levels
- Speed up the CBI case against Babri demolition accused like L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi and Uma Bharti
- Ensure proper legal handling of the AMU minority status case and the Andhra Pradesh government’s move to reserve jobs for Muslims.
The leaders also had a list of grouses:
- The newly-created ministry for minorities’ affairs is almost defunct
- Paradigm shift in Congress’s foreign policy vis-à-vis West Asia
- Announcement of 20,000 scholarships to minorities remains on paper
- Poor representation of Muslims in sensitive bodies like RAW, IB and SPG.
Some speakers asked why the central agencies were going slow against Narendra Modi’s handling of the Gujarat riots. They asked home minister Shivraj Patil to check if private religious institutions in Gujarat had sought specialised services of Israel-based security agencies.
Patil was told that while madarsas are constantly coming under scrutiny, the government was paying no attention to the “facts and figures” of Muslim socio-economic and educational indicators that pointed to a high rate of dropouts, unemployment and other social ills.
Some leaders accused the Congress of going back on time-tested policies like standing by Palestine. They said it was ironic that when Israel was indulging in aggression, some policy-makers here were talking about emulating the country to deal with terrorism.
A speaker recalled how Singh had been happy to hear US President George W. Bush introduce him to wife Laura as the Prime Minister of a country that has a population of 120 million Muslims without a “single al Qaida” member.
He wondered how things have changed so much that senior government functionaries were now openly talking about Qaida networks and operatives.
With the Uttar Pradesh elections, in which minority votes will play a crucial role, inching closer, Singh and the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress have the task cut out for them.