New Delhi, February 1 All India Milli Council (AIMC) launched the Political Awareness Caravans in different parts of the country since September 2008. It culminated at the historic Ram Lila Ground in Delhi on January 31, 2009. On this occasion, 28-Point Milli Caravan Declaration and 21-Point Milli Caravan Internal Agenda were adopted. The event was covered by English, Hindi and Urdu as well as regional language media. Following are given English coverage.
Justice A M Ahmadi (addressing) and AIMC Gen Secy Dr Manzoor Alam (standing extreme left)
New Delhi, January 31 Expressing concern over social and economic backwardness of the Muslim community, the All-India Milli Council on Saturday (January 31) demanded reservations for minorities in Parliament, State Assemblies, government jobs and educational institutions.
Addressing a rally at the Ramlila Grounds here, Council vice-president Mufti Ashraf Ali said: “After Independence the country adopted a secular model with good intentions. Although development is taking place in many areas in our country, we have seen that Muslims have not come into the national mainstream. If the country has to progress then the Muslims must be uplifted. We should become equal stakeholders so that our country marches on the path of development and progress.”
Former Chief Justice of India A M Ahmadi said January 30 was an important day for the country because of the martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi. “But just a few months ago Mumbai was attacked and so many innocent lives were lost. But the positive thing about the tragedy was that divergent communities forgot their differences and sent across the message of unity and integrity. We are citizens of this country, not guests or tenants. We have a right to live here like other citizens. As minorities we have one or two special provisions.”
Justice Ahmadi said the Muslim community must understand why political parties take a decision in their favour either through appeasement or try to hoist the flag of pseudo-secularism. “At the end of the day, you are always told that it is because of their generosity that you are staying in this country. They succeed in sowing the seeds of fear in your minds and hearts. You must not remain behind closed doors but come out in the open. With tameez and tehzeeb you must demand your rights.”
Calling upon the Muslim community to give utmost priority to education, Justice Ahmadi said every job has a minimum educational qualification. “You must encourage your children to study. Reservation is okay but how much percentage of people benefit from it is the moot question. Therefore, the entire community must see to it that children get complete education so that they can stand on their own feet,” he asserted.
Senior journalist Aziz Burney said that Muslims love this country can be seen from the fact that they chose to stay with Jawaharlal Nehru and not M A Jinnah. “We firmly believe in the democratic pattern. Muslims must not allow themselves to be used as vote banks. We have tried to educate ourselves but our educational institutions like Aligarh Muslim University have been targeted. When we went to study at Jamia Millia Islamia we saw the controversial Batla House incident. There should be a judicial inquiry into it.”
Later the Council in its (28-Point) declaration demanded that the practice of political apartheid by political parties must end. “Muslims must be treated as equal citizens of this country. The Election Commission should ask all political parties to field at least 10 per cent of their candidates from the minorities for every elected body. All kind of organisations propagating hate should be banned and a Judicial Commission be constituted to examine all cases of anti-minorities killings since 1984,” the Council declared.
The Council’s political awareness caravan that concluded in the Capital has been moving through State Capitals, towns and villages for the past three months.
The Times of India
By Dipak Kumar Dash
New Delhi, January 31 With the general elections approaching, a group of Muslim intellectuals, clerics and their supporters on Saturday resolved to shun political parties which use `fear' to secure Muslim votes. Cautioning such political outfits, speakers at the annual convention of All India Milli Council (AIMC) resolved that their votes will be only for positive factors like development and equality. Maintaining that the meet was apolitical, the organizers claimed that it was the culmination of the initiative taken by the council to raise political awareness among Muslims.
Speakers from different walks of life stressed that Muslim votes cannot be taken for granted. One of the speakers pointed out how the emergence of a `Dalit' party forced Sonia Gandhi to drive down to Mayawati's residence with a bouquet of flowers. "But is there any move to strengthen our community? What stops us from emerging as a strong block?'' he questioned.
AIMC President Maulana Abdullah Mughaisi claimed that people who had no role in the independence struggle had sidelined Muslims when they came to power.
Addressing the audience from different states, former Chief Justice of India Justice A M Ahmadi said that all civilized nations, including India, gave the same constitutional rights to everyone with certain special provisions for the minorities. "But whenever we talk of our rights, heavily-loaded expressions like `appeasement' and `pseudo-secularism' begin to fly around,'' he said.
Adding that this is done to instil fear among the Muslims, he told the audience, "Throw out the fear because it would not allow you to savour the flavour of freedom.'' He added that being called a vote-bank is an unpleasant experience for Muslims. But, ironically, it is a source of strength as well. "Know the value of your vote and exercise it thoughtfully to achieve your democratic rights,'' he said.
"Every individual has a constitutional right to get free education from six to 14 years. Do you send your boys and girls to schools?'' he questioned his audience.
Some of the speakers complained that when Muslims focused on Aligarh Muslim University in their pursuit of education, Aligarh witnessed frequent communal riots. When they were turning to Jamia Millia in New Delhi, the Jamia Nagar encounter at Batla House is being used to defame the Jamia locality and drive the students away. Demand for a judicial inquiry into the Batla House episode was once again raised at the convention.
Later, the audience and AIMC members adopted a 28-point Delhi Declaration which reiterated some familiar demands like SC status to Muslim Dalits and reservation to them in educational institutions and jobs.
21-Point Internal Agenda