HYDERABAD/ NEWDELHI:Accusing the Centre of neglecting Muslims, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi today dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reveal the number of members from this community recruited in the central armed police forces in the last four years.
Owaisi's challenge drew a sharp response from the Union Home ministry which said religion is not a "criteria" for recruitment in the central paramilitary forces.
Union Minority Affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also slammed Owaisi for his remarks on lack of representation of Muslims in the paramilitary forces, saying counting the number of soldiers on the basis of religion was the result of a "distorted secular mindset".
Owaisi said despite the prime minister's 15-Point Programme expressly stating that all efforts would be made to increase the share of the minorities in central government jobs, little was done about it.
The BJP-led NDA government came to power in May 2014, "CRPF, CISF, ITPB, they all come under central government.
You (the BJP) have been in office for the last four years.
The prime minister loudly claims he would like to give Quran in one hand and computer in the other.
So, what have you done (for Muslims) in the last four years? "In the last four years, under central sector, whether banks, whether railways, central paramilitary forces.... How many recruitments of minorities have taken place?" Owaisi told reporters in Hyderabad.
Earlier, addressing an event, the Hyderabad Lok Sabha member rattled off figures about the presence of "very few" Muslims in central police forces.
Claiming that the NDA government had done nothing substantial for granting employment to Muslims in central government undertakings, he said, "CRPF, CISF, ITPB.
..public sector banks... these are all under the central government. I challenge the Government of India and the BJP government to please issue data."
Owaisi claimed the current NDA dispensation discontinued the practice of issuing data on minorities in government jobs.
"You see the website of Ministry of Minority Affairs where data on how many from minorities, including Muslims and Christians, got jobs in various government departments. It used to be given till 2013," he said.
Owaisi said a media report had claimed there was "not a single" Muslim in the elite National Security Guards (NSG).
When a journalist sought to suggest that the recruitment to central armed police forces was done on merit, Owaisi insisted pluralism was the ethos of the country which needed to be reflected everywhere.
Central paramilitary forces -- the CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP, SSB, NSG and Assam Rifles -- function under the home ministry.
The total strength of these forces is around 10 lakh personnel.
"Religion is not a criteria for recruitment in paramilitary forces."There is no room for any religion in the recruitment process," a home ministry spokesperson said in DelhI. Hitting back at the AIMIM chief for his remarks, Naqvi said, "An Army soldier is the son of mother India, he is not a Hindu or a Muslim.
Counting the number of soldiers on religious grounds is the result of a distorted secular mindset.