A report published by the Delhi Minorities Commission on Muslim women in northeast Delhi, which incidentally is fresh in public memory as the site of communal riots in February, records that about 99 per cent of the Muslim women surveyed said they faced no religious discrimination in the area.
Northeast Delhi district is one of the 11 districts in the National Capital Territory (NCT). Of all the districts, it has the highest concentration of Muslims. As per 2011 Census, Hindus comprised 68.22 per cent of its 2,241,624 population while Muslims comprised 29.34 per cent.
The report says, “Only a very tiny minority (1.3%) of the respondents said that other community persons discriminate against them on the basis of religion, while the rest (98.7%) respondents did not experience any discrimination from other community persons on the basis of religion.”
Even those who felt discriminated, said that very few individuals from other communities discriminated against them while the rest of them had a very cordial relationship, the report says.
A total of 600 women from 30 different localities of the district were interviewed for the report. The localities were of three types – those with Muslim population above 75 per cent, those with Muslim population between 25 and 75 per cent and those with Muslim population between 0 and 25 per cent.
The report says that about 93.3 per cent of the women surveyed said that people of other communities are cordial with them. The rest, 6.7 per cent, said that people from other communities “are not talking with them in right manner or language”.
The report, titled ‘Socio-economic and educational Status of Muslim women in Northeast Delhi’ was published this month. It notes the Delhi Minority Commission chairperson Zafarul-Islam Khan as ‘Editor’. It can be accessed here.
Zafarul-Islam Khan, incidentally, is a controversial figure who has publicly threatened to get Arab countries involved in matters related to Hindu and Muslim communities in India, and hails radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik as a key contributor to Islam from India.
In April, Khan posted a message on his Facebook and Twitter account that triggered anger and led to the Delhi Police booking him for sedition.
The post said, “Thank you Kuwait for standing with the Indian Muslims! The Hindutva bigots calculated that given the huge economic stakes involved the Muslim and Arab world will not care about the persecution of Muslims in India… Mind you, bigots, Indian Muslims have opted until now not to complain to the Arab and Muslim world about your hate campaign and lynchings and riots. The day they are pushed to do that, bigots will face an avalanche.”
The post concluded with Khan’s signature saying, “Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, Chairman, Delhi Minorities Commission, 28 April 2020”.
Far from being on the defensive despite a police case, Khan posted another message on 3 May saying he stands by his “views and convictions”.
The survey, however, busts Khan’s own fear-mongering propaganda as almost all the women surveyed stated they faced no religious discrimination.
It is pertinent to note that, on the other hand, the Delhi Police chargesheet in the lynching of constable Ratan Lal at Wazirabad road on 24 February says that Muslim women acted as human shields for a Muslim mob that eventually killed Ratan Lal and injured many other cops.
This incident was captured on camera, and has been widely circulated on social media.
Other key findings of the report:
The report’s conclusion, signed by Khan, says,
“Local government needs to build more amenities including schools, clinics, playgrounds, transport and recreation facilities. Education department must ensure children unable to pay school fees are not dropped out of formal education. Information, education and communication (IEC) activities must be earnestly undertaken especially for parents to ensure the continued education of their girl children. Avenues for job opportunities nearby, especially for girls, must also be devised. And, most important, sanitation and cleanliness are issues that call for better management in North East Delhi. The system of garbage and waste disposal and cleanliness must also be strengthened. In addition to all this, there is a need to strengthen the law and order of the North East district, especially after the recent incidents of communal violence in this locality during late February 2020.”
The report says the survey was planned under the previous head Qamar Ahmad, but work could begin only in January this year. Set up under the Delhi Minorities Commission Act, 1999, the Delhi Minorities Commission is mandated to protect the interests of notified religious minority communities namely the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains.
The report has been submitted to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Incidentally, one of the councillors in Northeast Delhi representing Kejriwal’s own Aam Aadmi Party, Tahir Hussain, has been made a key accused in the murder case of Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma.
Sharma‘s rotting body was found in a drain in Chand Bagh area on the morning of 26 February. Sharma was a resident of Northeast Delhi’s Khajoori Khas locality which, as per the report, has about 56 per cent of its population as Muslims. Among other charges made against Hussain, he is accused of inciting a Muslim mob in the name of religion to kill ‘kafirs’.
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