Shillong: The Muslim minority in Meghalaya, a state in northeast India, has called for 4% reservation in state government positions.
‘Desi’ Muslims who live in the plains of the Garo Hills region are represented by a local outfit called the Anti-Corruption League (ACL), which has written to Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma asking for 4% reservations in government posts for Muslims in the state, which is predominantly Christian.
According to a news agency, the ACL letter was delivered to the Chief Minister on the same day the Meghalayan government created a committee to develop a strategy for implementing the state reservation policy and the roster system for reservations.
When Meghalaya was separated from Assam in 1972, the non-tribal population of the state was 20%, according to a representative for ACL.
“Despite being a part of Assam and the Assamese culture for centuries, 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.
It further underlined that “In the historic tripartite meeting among the Central government representatives, the 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.”
“It was also promised that our rights and aspirations, our growth, and our development would be given equal priority and importance as those of the tribal people of Meghalaya. But the assurances were never fulfilled,” the letter underscored.
The ACL made the point that Meghalaya’s current reservation system not only denies the deserving, but also produces a group of people who are vulnerable to unfairness and pervasive inequality.
Three matrilineal communities—the Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia—are given an 80 percent quota under Meghalaya’s 51-year-old policy regarding job reservations. The Khasi-Jaintia people collectively and the Garos receive an equal share of the quota.
15% is set aside for those in the unreserved categories, with another 5% designated for members of other minor tribes.
Since they are less numerous and have less advanced educational levels than the Khasi-Jaintia people, the 40% reservation has scarcely been fully utilized by the Garo tribal population.
Christians make up 74.59 percent of Meghalaya’s 29.67 lakh population, according to the 2011 Census, while Muslims and Hindus make up 4.40 percent and 11.53 percent, respectively.
Z.R. Marak had previously filed a complaint with the Meghalaya High Court, alleging that other communities were abusing the applicable rules by using up the quota allotted for the Garo people.
On the high court on April 21 asked the state government to implement a roster system that would only apply to entry-level positions.