SHILLONG – A local organisation in Meghalaya has demanded 4 per cent reservations in government jobs for the members of the Muslim community.
The Anti-Corruption League (ACL), representing the ‘Desi’ Muslims inhabiting the plains of Garo Hills region, has written to Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma demanding 4 per cent reservations in government jobs for Muslims in the state, which is dominated by Christians.
The ACL letter was sent to the Chief Minister on Tuesday, the day when the Meghalaya government reconstituted a committee to chalk out a plan to implement the reservation roster system and the state reservation policy.
A spokesman of ACL said on Wednesday that in the letter, it was mentioned that the state’s non-tribal population was 20 per cent when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972.
“Despite being a part of Assam and the Assamese culture for centuries, the �Desi’ Muslims extended their support for a separate hill state with high hopes that their rights and socio-economic aspirations will be protected and accommodated in the new state,” the ACL said.
“In the historic tripartite meeting among the Central government representatives, non-tribal leadership led by then member of District Council Akramuz Zaman and the tribal leadership led by Captain Williamson A. Sangma (Meghalaya’s first Chief Minister), the non-tribals were assured of equal opportunities and fair play by the tribal leaders,” the ACL said.
The letter added: “It was also promised that our rights and aspirations, our growth and development will be given equal priority and importance as that of the tribal people of Meghalaya. But the assurances were never fulfilled.”
The ACL pointed out that the present reservation system in Meghalaya not only deprives the meritorious, but has also created a group of people who are subjected to injustice and widespread inequalities.
According to the 2011 Census, Christians constitute 74.59 per cent of Meghalaya’s 29.67 lakh populations, while Muslims and Hindus constitute 4.40 per cent and 11.53 per cent, respectively.
Meghalaya’s 51-year-old job reservation policy entails 80 per cent quota for three matrilineal communities – Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia. The quota is divided equally between the Garos and the Khasi-Jaintia people together.
Another 5 per cent is reserved for �other minor tribes’, while 15 per cent is reserved for people in the unreserved categories.
The Garo tribals are educationally more backward and numerically lower than the Khasi-Jaintia people, and they have hardly been able to get the full benefit of the reservation of 40 per cent.
A person named Z.R. Marak had earlier approached the Meghalaya High Court claiming that other communities were using up the quota meant for the Garo people in violation of the relevant laws.
On April 21, the high court had asked the Meghalaya government to introduce a roster system that would be relevant only for entry-level posts.
Last week, a local outfit, Voice of the People Party (VPP), had organised an indefinite hunger strike in Shillong demanding the review of the reservation policy and the implementation of the roster system prospectively, not retrospectively.
Responding to VPP’s demand, the state government reconstituted a committee comprising 12 members to discuss the reservation policy and the roster system.
Apart from two senior government officials, the committee has one representative from each political party.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Sangma has demanded implementation of the existing job reservation policy in letter and spirit, stating that the main issues facing the state’s youth today are inadequate jobs, livelihood opportunities and sustainable livelihood outside the government sector, and creation of government jobs. -IANS