MVA in a split as Nawab Malik pushes for 5% Muslim Reservation in Maharashtra

Maharashtra Minority Affairs Minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik on 28th February had announced that the government is planning to give 5% reservations to the Muslim community as per the high court order by making a law.

Crux of the Matter

A government’s mantra for minorities, especially Muslims, seems to follow suit as seen with the Modi 1.0 government which took steps like the Hajj scheme, Triple Talaq, Madrasas, Waqf property, etc. Recently, the Uttar Pradesh government budget also announced a hefty sum for developing the minority community. On the flip side, CAA has created an apprehensive atmosphere for the Muslim population. The polarization led to communal violence in Delhi, where both the religious groups, Hindus and Muslims have suffered because of the violence.

Divide Before the Conquer
In a mixed environment like this, the Maharashtra government is mulling over providing a 5% quota to Muslims in the state. NCP leader Nawab Malik said, “We will try to give 5% reservation to Muslims in education by the end of this assembly session. The previous government, a coalition between the Shiv Sena and the BJP, didn’t give reservation for Muslims despite a court order.” All the parties in the Maha Vikas Aghadi are on different terms in this issue. Nawab Malik also claimed that the Shiv Sena was on board with his decision. 

Shiv Sena Minister Eknath Shinde did not disclose his party’s stance and said, “I am not aware of the announcement. No decision has been taken yet. Leaders of the MVA will together take a call on all policy decisions about giving reservations to any community.”

Soon after Malik’s statement, VHP tweeted its concern over reservations to Muslims. After which Shiv Sena replied by saying, “No such subject is under discussion.”

Political Pragmatism or Following Suit?
Political analyst Surendra Jondhale believes that the move by Shiv Sena is being practical. Muslim reservation was pending during the BJP government because the Marathas were pushing strongly for quota. This is the political pragmatism of the Shiv Sena to go with a quota for minorities.

A 5% reservation for Muslims would add to the existing quota which is already above the 50% capped by the Supreme Court. Reservations in jobs and education for the Maratha community was given last year by the Fadnavis government.

Maharashtra earlier had a 50% reservation in educational institutions and government jobs. After the Bombay High Court in June 2019 allowed 12% and 13% reservation respectively education and jobs for Maratha caste (SEBC) and 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) approved by the Union Cabinet; the reservation has been estimated to reach up to 75% making Maharashtra the state with the highest percentage of reservation in the country.

Curiopedia

The system of reservation in India is designed to promote, or provide opportunities to the various legislatures, to government jobs, and to enrollment in higher educational institutions. The reservation nourishes the historically disadvantaged castes and tribes, listed as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes by the Government of India, also those designated as Other Backwards Classes (OBCs) and also the economically backward general. It is intended to realise the promise of equality enshrined in the Constitution. Over the years, the quota categories have been expanded beyond those to the OBCs. It is observed that even after 70 years of reservation the backward classes haven’t been benefitted the way they should have been and reservation keeps getting extended after every 10 years. More Info

2019 Modi Mantra for Muslims

2019 has witnessed some reforms centered around the Muslims of India. If Triple Talaq and Education & Haj Schemes lifted the spirits of the Muslim Community, Abrogation of Article 370, Ram Janmabhoomi – Babri Masjid Land Dispute, and Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 may have balanced out the sentiments of the community. Let us dive deeper into how different policies, acts, and decisions shaped the outlook.

Crux of the Matter

Triple Talaq Criminalised
Family Affairs of the Muslim Community of India are governed by Muslim Personal Law. Triple Talaq or Talaq-e-biddat is a practice pronounced in the Sharia Law. Muslim marriages permit divorce if either spouse announces ‘Talaq’ thrice. There have been contentious issues revolving around the time that ought to be given between each announcement, the right of Muslim women to pronounce Triple Talaq, and the responsibility of the financial security of the family. Historically, Ulamas – Muslim scholars – have held opposing views about it. Some modern-day Muslim scholars have said that despite being hollow on legal grounds, this law is binding. We must note that Triple Talaq is banned in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc.

Supreme Court, in 2017, rendered the practice of Triple Talaq unconstitutional. 2 members, who opposed the ban on Triple Talaq, of the 5-judge bench had, however, recommended that the decision be passed as a law in the Parliament. On 26 July 2019, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill was passed. It stated that “instant Triple Talaq” announced in whatever form – written, spoken or via Email or SMS, will be considered illegal and stand void. The husband, who announced it, could be imprisoned up to three years.

This law, on the grounds of constitutionality and human rights, was hailed by Muslim women of India. Muslim Scholars and Incumbents also welcomed the government’s decision. AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi objected to the imprisonment clause of the Bill and said that the Bill did not meet its primary objective of safeguarding women’s security, chiefly financial. The government stood their ground and said that the victimization of women would be reduced.

Abrogation of Article 370
Government of India scrapped Article 370 in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution allowed J&K to formulate its own laws for self-administration. J&K had its own Constitution. Owning of property, getting local government positions, and availing educational scholarships in the state by outsiders was prohibited.

In a state where 67% of the population is Muslim, a chill ran across the community with the abrogation of Article 370. Some Muslims were apprehensive that scrapping of the Act would invite a lot of outsiders to settle in the state and were of the opinion that their privilege was lost in an unconstitutional manner. Whereas, some Muslims praised the decision of the government and asserted that the discrimination against them will no longer exist and their children will have access to better education and economy.

On a different note, the Indian government received criticism for the way in which the whole operation was carried out. Internet shutdown and curb on mobile and telephone services were major contentions for the government.

Do only Muslims live in Jammu and Kashmir? No Hindus? No Buddhists? Why is it viewed like that? It has been abrogated for veryone and not only for Muslims.

– Amit Shah on abrogation of Article 370

Ayodhya Land Dispute
The long-standing Ayodhya Land Verdict that divided Hindus and Muslims of India came in the year 2019 with the Supreme Court stating that the land would be given to Hindus for Ram temple construction and Muslims will get a 5-acre land at a different place to build a mosque.

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi opposed the SC ordered and said, “There has been discrimination against Muslims and no one can deny it. We are fighting for our legal rights.”. Many Muslims were affirmative about upholding SC’s decision as it was based on evidence and rationale.

Citizenship Amendment Act
Interpretation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 and the speculation of the National Register of Citizens by some has shaped apprehension that the process is a concentrated effort to drive out Muslims of the country. The Act now provides citizenship to illegal immigrants from certain religiously persecuted minorities.

Ruling party BJP has time and again asserted that the law will not affect the citizens of India. Home Minster Amit Shah said, “In this Bill, there is no proposal to touch the citizenship of any Muslim,”.

Government Policies
In the year 2019 BJP 2.0 has launched and revamped various policies for the upliftment of Muslims. In the Education sector, the government notified merit-cum-means, pre-matric, post-matric, and various other scholarships for minority communities that also include Muslims. The government also started trained more than 750 teachers from Madras so that they can also impart formal education. “Besides traditional teachings in Madrasa, Urdu, Arabic and other languages, Madrasa teachers are also being provided training for mainstream formal education like Hindi, Maths, English, Science, Computer, regional languages etc. These teachers are being provided training from reputed institutions of the country such as IIT, Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Jamia Hamdard, Anjuman-e-Islam, Amity University and other reputed educational institutes,” said Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Government also took interest in digitizing the entire Haj process so as to give the travelers a transparent process. India launched E-MASIHA, an acronym for E Medical Assistance System for Indian Pilgrims Abroad. It was a database of Indian pilgrims’ health conditions. A record-breaking 2 lakh Muslims had visited Haj in 2019.

Waqf properties across India were also brought under digitization by the Indian government. Government has a target of geo-tagging as many as 6 lakh Waqf properties to ensure better utilization of them.

Curiopedia

Triple talaq, also known as talaq-e-biddat, instant divorce and talaq-e-mughallazah (irrevocable divorce), was a form of Islamic divorce which has been used by Muslims in India, especially adherents of Hanafi Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. It allowed any Muslim man to legally divorce his wife by uttering the word talaq (the Arabic word for “divorce”) three times in oral, written or, more recently, electronic form. More Info

The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. More Info

A waqf, also known as hubous or mortmain property, is an inalienable charitable endowment under Islamic law, which typically involves donating a building, plot of land or other assets for Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of reclaiming the assets. The donated assets may be held by a charitable trust. The person making such dedication is known as waqif, a donor. More Info