Mumbai(dna): However, Abdul Shaban, professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Abdul Shaban, and the deputy director of the institute’s Tuljapur campus, warned that while the welfare measures were welcome, the state needed to relook “pejorative” terms like de-radicalisation.
“This is negative and counterproductive,” he said, adding that this amounted to putting the Muslim community on the other side and as painting them as being radicalised. Shaban urged the need for development rather than deradicalisation.
“Muslims are as much a part of the citizenry and mainstream,” he said, adding that however, there was a need to deradicalise the larger society.
“The Muslim community is embedded in a larger cultural ethos,” Shaban pointed out, adding that there was a need to enhance the sense of citizenship and belonging of Muslims.
Amidst concerns over rising radicalisation among Muslims and to overcome their sense of alienation, the state government is planning to launch a de-radicalisation drive to deliver welfare and infrastructure schemes to the community and increase its interface with the police.
The integrated drive, which will involve the police and other departments, ie minority welfare, social justice, urban development, and health, will also have the state roping in Muslim clerics to reach the community members in a confidence-building measure.
Though Muslims form over 10.6% of Maharashtra’s population (fourth largest after Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar), they fare poorly in social and developmental indicators education, fertility rates, health, and participation of women in the workforce. The chief minister’s study group under former IAS officer Mehmood-ur-Rehman committee, which examined the socio-economic and educational backwardness of Muslims in Maharashtra, noted: “It will not be a hyperbole to say that today Indian Muslims are among the poorest of the poor.”
While four Kalyan youngsters joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria created shockwaves across India, the execution of 1993 Bombay blasts accused Yakub Memon also created a churn in the community.
Muslim leaders admit that the community feels threatened at a psychological level, with the alienation becoming more protracted as the right-wing increasingly asserts itself. The ban on slaughter of bulls and the state government’s decision to scrap quotas for Muslims have led to a further simmer.
“We are planning a de-radicalisation drive,” minister of state for home Dr Ranjit Patil told dna, adding that areas with a significant minority population like Malegaon would be identified for this. He added that the drive would consist of increasing the community’s access to skill courses and their increasing stipends and liberalising entry-level standards for this, health and education, better sanitation and water supply. This will improve social and physical infrastructure in Muslim-dominated areas.
As a “confidence-building” measure, “soft interactions” of the Muslim community with the police will be undertaken and personnel will also interact with religious leaders to reach out to a larger constituency. The police will also be imparted “soft skills” to aid their interface with the people. “This will build trust,” he noted.
“(We are looking at) improving health facilities for the community by strengthening public and government hospitals in these localities… and giving specialised services and procedures,” said Patil, noting that lack of sanitation and cramped living quarters led to a high prevalence of tuberculosis. He, however, denied this had an immediate link with the churn in the community over Memon’s hanging, calling these “pro-active steps”.
“The chief minister is keen on this and has given a time-bound programme… (he has mooted) an integrated approach (of various departments),” said Patil.
Municipal corporations will be asked to improve the community’s access to health and OPD facilities and increase the quantity and volume of water supply.
However, Abdul Shaban, professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and deputy director of the institute’s Tuljapur campus, warned that while the welfare measures were welcome, the state needed to re-look “pejorative” terms like de-radicalisation.
“This is negative and counterproductive,” he said, adding that this amounted to putting the community on the other side and as painting them radicalised. Shaban urged the need for development rather than de-radicalisation.
“Muslims are as much a part of the citizenry and mainstream,” he said, adding that however, there was a need to de-radicalise the larger society.
“The Muslim community is embedded in a larger cultural ethos, and there’s a need to enhance their sense of citizenship and belonging.”
Urban poverty is higher among Muslims in Maharashtra than scheduled castes and scheduled tribes; graduates in the community are just around 3% and youths suffer from poor employability.
Mumbai, Aurangabad, Akola and Parbhani districts have high Muslim concentration. A total of 18 districts have a total Muslim population of over 10%.
There has been an observed national trend of around one per cent increase in the share of Muslim population per decade since 1961. The fertility rate for Muslims in the state is almost one child higher than the rate for Hindus, according to the Rehman report.