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'Malegaon is paying the price for its role in freedom struggle'

Monday, October 18, 2010 11:34:04 AM, Staff Reporter

Pune based Development Economist and Demographer Dr. Malika Mistry


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Pune: Forget receiving credits, Malegaon is actually paying the price and punished for the role it had played during the Indian freedom struggle.


So says Dr. Malika Mistry. Dr. Malika, Development Economist and Demographer, was speaking to on the sidelines of the second State Convention of the All India Secular Forum (AISF) recently held in Pune.


"Malegaon should have been given credits for the extraordinary role the town had played during the freedom struggle and the sacrifices it had made for the independence of the country. But, far from receiving credits, the town is actually been ignored, suppressed, sidelined and punished... in a systematic and perhaps deliberate manner", she says.


Stating that somewhat similar observations were made by Ms. Meeta Lochan, an IAS officer who served the town for few months as Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Dr. Malika says, "I experienced this feeling while in Malegaon to complete my thesis. I noticed with shock that the hostile police and the ignorant officials who were the fate of the town during the British era persisted even after the independence."


Observing that the root-cause of many problems in the country lies in our failure to realise the need for police and administrative reforms after the independence, she says, "Instead of reforms, we allowed our machineries to function as they were during the British regime. But the sufferings of the people in Malegaon show that we made the mistake and the country should have opted for police and administrative reforms immediately after the independence."


Malegaon is the Muslim dominated town in North Maharashtra and has witnessed a series of communal riots and terrorist attacks in its post-independence history. It also has an equally long history of negligence on the parts of successive governments. Dr. Malika was in Malegaon for her research work on 'Fertility and Family Planning among Muslims in Malegaon'. She was later awarded doctorate by Gokhale Institute of Politics & Economics for this research.


In reply to the question, why she chose Malegaon for her research work, Dr. Malika says, "The town has quite a few number of Madrasas and its people have a very strong religious connection. At the same time, it is also a known high-fertility zone."


About her research, she says, she was surprised to note that despite all odds and the sufferings the town has undergone, it has maintained a good literacy level, which is an impressive more than 70%.


"It is where that Malegaon has a chance. If administration changes its attitude towards the town even today, there is no reason why Malegaon, which has always been regarded as a liability, doesn't become a major source of income and talented workforce for the state as well as the country", she says. 







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A Masjid and Mandir stand side by side in Malegaon. Though the town is regarded as communally sensitive place and has actually gone through a series of riots and terrorist attacks, people here are known for living together, and in peace and harmony since hundreds of years. The picture is taken during the Dassehra Festival that ended October 17. Every year the Mandir is illuminated and decorated with lights and special Pujas are held even as Muslims pray in the Madjid almost simultaenously.



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