Secularism has harmed Muslims, says AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi

By PTI

MUMBAI: AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Saturday asked Muslims to shun “political secularism” saying it has not helped the socially and educationally backward sections of the community in getting a quota in jobs and education.

Addressing a rally in suburban Mumbai, Owaisi said he believes in secularism enshrined in Constitution.

“What did Muslims get out of secularism? We did not get a reservation in jobs and education. We didn’t have participation in decision-making…no rights,” the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president said, adding that the word secularism has harmed Muslims.

In Maharashtra, only 22 per cent of Muslims take admission in primary schools while only 4.9 per cent of Muslims graduate.

He said 83 per cent of Muslims in Maharashtra are landless.

“Does the heart of Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena beat only for Marathas?” he questioned.

The standard of living of Marathas is much higher compared to Muslims in Maharashtra, he claimed.

Referring to the imposition of section 144 of CrPC in Mumbai, which was brought in to check the spread of Omicron variant of coronavirus, Owaisi questioned if prohibitory orders will remain in place when Rahul Gandhi visits the Maharashtra capital later this month.

“That time it will not be Omircron but power…,” he said.

The Hyderabad MP said Congress and NCP joined hands with Sena for power and forgot the assurance of implementing a 5 per cent quota in jobs and education for the Muslim community.

“Congress and NCP blame AIMIM for cutting secular votes. Is Shiv Sena secular? When (Sena president and Maharashtra CM) Uddhav Thackeray says in the legislature that he is proud that Shiv Sainiks destroyed the Babri mosque then these two parties kept quiet,” Owaisi said.

The NCP and Congress are partners in the Sena-headed Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

The erstwhile Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra had provided 5 per cent reservation to Muslims in jobs and education in 2014.

The Bombay HC quashed the Maratha quota but upheld the Muslim quota in education.

Opposition alleges that between 2014 and 2019, the issue of implementing this quota for Muslims was allegedly not taken up by the then BJP-Shiv Sena government.

Speaking at the same rally, Aurangabad MP and Maharashtra AIMIM chief Imtiyaz Jaleel, who travelled to Mumbai by road from his constituency in Marathwada in 13 hours, alleged all attempts were made to stop him from reaching Mumbai.

“Mumbai lo main aa gaya…” he told the charged audience.

He thanked the police saying they were acting on orders from the top.

“They were doing their job and I am doing my job,” Jaleel said.

“We have to question the government on (the failure to implement) 5 per cent quota (for Muslims) and irregularities in Waqf land,” he said.

Jaleel alleged that prohibitory orders in Mumbai are an excuse to stop the AIMIM rally.

“Is the Omicron variant spreads only on December 11 and 12? Will it go away on December 13?” he asked.

Jaleel alleged that Muslims have been used as a “toy” for securing votes during elections.

He said Muslims should learn from Marathas on the quota demand.

Jaleel alleged that 93,000 acres of Waqf land have been misappropriated and that he has lodged nine FIRs so far as he is a member of the Waqf Board.

“Despite the Bombay High Court upholding 5 per cent quota in education and jobs for Muslims, the decision hasn’t been implemented. When Congress and NCP were in opposition, they would fight with BJP and Sena for implementing the quota for Muslims. But now despite being in power for two years, nothing has happened on the quota front,” he said.

Jaleel said heavy police deployment at Vashi while entering Mumbai made him think whether he was an MP or a terrorist.

“I was stopped by a police officer asking me to remove the tricolour from my vehicle. I was told that I will not be allowed to proceed with the flag. I told the police that they can keep my vehicle. I will walk to Mumbai with the tricolour,” he said.

Jaleel said the country can’t progress if Muslims are deprived of their rights.