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60 per cent of Maharashtra's Muslims below poverty line: Panel

Published: 22nd October 2013 08:41 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd October 2013 08:41 PM   |  A+A-

By IANS

Nearly 60 per cent of Muslims in both urban and rural areas of Maharashtra fall in the below poverty line (BPL) category, a state-government appointed panel has revealed.

As much as 59.40 per cent of the urban Muslim population and 59.80 per cent of the rural Muslim population fell in the category, while another 25 per cent of the community was living just barely above the BPL mark, said the report by a committee headed by retired civil servant Mehmoodur Rehman.

Rehman headed a committee of social scientists which was set up five years ago to study the educational, social and economic backwardness of the Muslim population in the state. It submitted its report to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan here Monday.

A top official said that the report has been received and the government will study it before taking further steps on its recommendations.

Among other things, it had urged a ban on the practice of 'triple talaaq' (divorce in one sitting) and called for reforms in the Muslim community with regard to gender equality.

According to the findings, while 70 per cent of the Muslims were centred in urban areas, they faced a major problem problem of housing.

The remaining 30 percent in the rural areas did not have satisfactory access to various poverty alleviation programmes of both the central and state governments.

The record in educational opportunities was equally disturbing, with only 2.2 per cent of the total Muslims completing graduation, while only 1.4 per cent of Muslim women do so.

"The work participation rate among the Muslims is 32.4 per cent and the women work participation is only 12 per cent."

It also mentioned the low representation enjoyed by Muslims in government jobs at various levels.

While in the Indian Administrative Service cadre of Maharashtra, the presence of Muslims is "as good as non-existent", in the police force, they account for a presence of about a mere 4.4 per cent.

"Muslims should have a reservation of 10 per cent, or at least 8 per cent in the employment and admissions to all educational institutions including the professional courses," it recommended.

The committee suggested a ban on the practice of 'arbitrary' talaaq (divorce) and making alimony compulsory to the divorced woman.

The report also expressed concern over police harassment and the large number of cases registered against Muslims.

"While the total populace of the community in the state is 10.6 per cent, the jail occupancy statistics range between 32-35 per cent," it said.

Given these figures, it has suggested setting of a commission to find out the causes behind the disproportionate share of Muslims in state jails and suggest corrective actions that can be taken to avoid this.

The committee also asked the government to come down heavily on police personnel violating the basic fundamental rights of the Muslim community and stressed the need for an open dialogue and interaction between communities on the lines of several European countries.



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