Dalit Muslims in Bihar protest declaration of upper caste as backward

July 7th, 2008 - 7:00 pm ICT by IANS  


Patna, July 7 (IANS) Dalit muslims in Bihar, protesting the decision to declare powerful upper caste Mallick muslims as backward, threatened Monday a statewide agitation and a legal challenge to the government decision. Dalit muslim leader Daud Rayeen, also president of the newly-formed Federation for Minorities Rights, said: “It was a historical wrong by the state government to declare Mallicks as a backward caste”.

Rayeen blamed “some influential Muslims close to the power centre in the state” for misinforming the government in this regard. “It was manipulated and managed by using false facts….”

Several hundred dalit muslims staged a daylong protest here against the government decision and demanded that the Mallicks be withdrawn from the backward caste list. The protesters belonged to various dalit muslim groups.

Federation vice president Irshadul Haque told IANS that the federation plans to file a Public Interest Litigation in Patna High Court to challenge the government decision. “We will seek the court intervention for justice to protect the rights of dalit muslims,” he said.

“It will cost (Bihar chief minister) Nitish Kumar heavily during elections because the numbers of dalit muslims are much more than Mallicks… this decision has already angered dalit muslims,” said Firoz Mansuri, a dalit muslim leader.

Mallicks are regarded as the most developed caste among Muslims in Bihar. They are educationally, economically and socially second to none including other upper caste Muslims like Syed, Khan, and Shaikh.

Mallicks are mostly spread in about 50-odd village of the districts of Patna, Jehanabad, Gaya, Nawada, Jamui, Munger and Nalanda, which is chief minister Nitish Kumar’s home district. In urban centres of these districts, too, they have a sizeable population.

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