‘West Bengal no Oasis for Minorities’, Says Rights Organisation Awaaz
Awaaz Logo. Image Courtesy: Facebook
Kolkata: “Though Mamata Banerjee is wearing hijab at religious programmes, that does not transcend the fact that minorities are not doing any better here; rather they are plunging into more darkness, with their economical condition fast deteriorating.”
This was said by Giyasuddin Halder, a leading member of Awaaz, while talking to NewsClick. Awaaz is a social platform of the minority population of West Bengal, both of a religious and linguistic nature.
Awaaz recently held its second state convention at Moulali Yuva Kendra in Kolkata from where it slammed the TMC-ruled State government’s decision to construct two temples at Digha and at Kachua with taxpayers money. It also noted that competitive communalism was at force in the state.
The convention elected Ruhul Amin Gazi as secretary and SK Saidul Haque as president of Awaaz.
The organisation also noted with shame incidents like when a madrasa teacher was thrown out of a running train for not chanting Jai Sri Ram at the Park Circus station of Sealdah by Hindutva vigilantes. Same was noted in the case of a guest house in Salt Lake in the city, where the belongings of 6 madrasa teachers were thrown out on the suspicion of them being terrorists, even when their official credentials had been verified.
It also noted with disdain how Hanuman Jayanti and Ramnavami, the celebration of which were unheard of in the state, were now getting government sponsorship and that during these festivals riots were common.
Awaaz works in Alipurduar, Malda and several other districts by building up a strong movement when minority rights were affected.The organisation had boldly participated during the Park Circus Shaheen Bagh-like movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act (2019).
Speaking with NewsClick, newly elected president of Awaaz, SK Saidul Haque cited the Pratichi Trust funded report on ‘Living Reality of Minorities in West Bengal’ where it was found out that only 85.5% of Muslims went to school in the state and the rest 14.5% were either school dropouts or had never touched the school education system.
According to the report, in the police force in 2007, 9.1 % were Muslims, the same ratio increasing only marginally to 9.4% in 2015. Similar findings were found for employees in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC). More so, in the villages, about 80% of Muslim households earn less than Rs 5,000 per month. Not only that 38.3% Muslim households earn less than Rs 2,500 per month and about 47% Muslims are either non-skilled labourers or agricultural labourers.
The report had also pointed at the dismal condition of drinking water, roads and in the health sector, as in 10% Muslim dominated villages there are no ICDS centres. “Minorities are citizens of the country who too have every right to the country's economic resources which are being denied to them,'' Saidul said, while talking with NewsClick.
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