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Demanding quota, Maharashtra Muslims march from Malegaon to Mumbai
Saturday May 18, 2013 0:19 AM, ummid.com Staff Reporter

Holding National tricolour in one hand and the Muslim Reservation Federation (MRF) flag in the other, hundreds of Muslims set off on the 300-kmtrs long paidal-march from Malegaon to Mumbai on Friday late in the afternoon to press the government to give 20% reservation to the largest minority group in India.

The organisers said that more than 1200 people had registered to participate in approximately ten-days long march expected to culminate on May 25 at Mumbai's Azad Maidan. As the march began from Malegaon's Shahidon ki yadgaar, women and children showered flowers from top of the nearby school building to show solidarity with the marchers.

The marchers comprising Muslims from Pune, Nanded, Yeola, Dhule, Satana and other cities of the state besides a majority from Malegaon will travel 30-35 kmtrs every day. They will pass through Chandwad, Wadali Bhoi, Pimpalgaon Baswant, Ozar, Nashik, Wadiwarhe, Ghoti, Igatpuri, Kasara, Shahapur and Bhiwandi en-route to Mumbai.

An all-party rally will also be held in Bhiwandi when the march reaches the city on coming Friday. In Mumbai, a massive rally to be addressed by top leaders of the community is planned at Azad Maidan.

The decision for the Muslim reservation march was taken during a mammoth rally held in Malegaon on March 29, 2013 which was attended by hundreds of delegates from five districts Nashik, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nandurbar and Ahmednagar.

Preparations for the march was on ever since then with Asif Shaikh Rasheed, the founder and convener of the Muslim Reservation Federation (MRF) – an organisation formed about six months ago, criss-crossing the entire state to mobilise the support for what he called as the historic event to seek reservation for the Muslims in India considered to be among the most backwards and alienated groups.

"The only way to empower the Muslims in the country is reservation in government jobs and other public sector units. We want the government to give 20% reservation to the Muslims before the year 2014. No more promises, we want it now", he said amid thundering applauds before setting off for the march.

With the help of statistics he said that the situation for the Muslims post Sachar Committee Report had worsened.

"The Sachar Committee Report had recommended reservation as one of the remedies for the backwardness of the alienated community. However, five years after this report, situation at the ground level has become worse", he said.

President of Jamiatul Ulema Maharashtra Hafiz Nadeem Siddiqui, who came from Nanded to extend support for the march, warned the Congress led government of the political consequences if it did not take the necessary decision on the issue.

"If reservation can be given to Muslims in Andhra Pradesh, why not in Maharashtra? Is the state ruled by RSS?", he asked.
He also said that their protest would be intensified if their demands were not met.

"This is just a beginning. If the government doesn't accept our demands even now, a jail bharo andolan will be started all across the state'", said Hafiz Nadeem Siddiqui.

Stating that the development of the country is linked with the development of Muslims and other backwards, Kul Jamaati Tanzeem leader Abdul Hameed Azhari said, "Maharashtra has more than 10% Muslims. But there is not a single Muslim parliamentarian from the state. On this basis, can we call the parliament a representative one?", he asked.

"The country cannot flourish till appropriate share is given to Muslims and other downtrodden", he said.

Member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Hafiz Umrain said that if the government failed to accept their demand even now, it should be ready to shun the power.

"Muslims have realised their vote-power. No party can come to power without our support. Accept our demands if you want our support in the coming election", he said.

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