Bihar Muslim-Dalit movement dying ?


Is the Pasmanda Dalit-Muslim movement dying premature and set to repeat the history of early 60s? This question is back with another tragedy within the movement. The current fight for empowerment of Pasmanda Muslim would end up the same way as what happened under the leadership of Abdul Qaum Ansari.

Ansari’s Momin movement was one of the strongest for the rights of Dalit-Muslim seen in post-independent India but it died, thanks to the vested interest of the leadership.

Soon after Ansari secured a berth of minister in the Congress-led govt. and became busy with power politics, the movement was deserted. Some old people with the movement blamed the leadership thereby weakening the movement. Nearly after half century,the movement faces more or less similar situation.

Power corrupts: Earlier, Ali Anwar got the gift of Rajya Sabha berth and now Dr. Ejaj Ali followed the way of Ali Anwar.

In 1993-1994, two separate, but aimed at single goal, Muslim-Dalit movement emerged under the leadership of Ali Anwar and Dr. Ejaj Ali. Journalist-turned social activist Ali Anwar and his colleagues had started a movement named Pasmanda Tahreek under the banner of All-India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (AIPMM) but a surgeon, Dr. Ejaj Ali, launched All-India Backward Muslim Morcha which changed its name All-India United Muslim Morcha (AIUMM).

These two movements have successfully been mobilising the extremely marginalised sections of Muslim-Dalit. But the point is the Muslim leadership does not take lesson from history which proves that if you run after power, it will be suicidal for the movement. And these two leaders — Ali Anwar and Ejaj Ali — did the same. They say “what we cannot do from outside parliament we can do better in the House”. Ali Anwar has been in parliament since two and half years and of course he has been raising the voice in the house but on the other hand he has lost the ground at the cost of house (parliament). After becoming MP his organisation has got divided into two. Organisational activities are almost dead.

Dr. Ejaj Ali, however, said:

I am not after power. What I only need is to get the benefit of Scheduled Castes for Dalit Muslims. Whenever I will feel that as an MP I am not able to do justice for our cause, I will give it up.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar cunningly offered the Rajya Sahba seat for both to weaken his arch rival, Lalu Prasad, monopoly-holder of Muslim vote bank, and secondly, he cut the roots of these leaders so that they cannot emerge as mass leaders of the Muslim-Dalit community like Kanshi Ram.

Kanshi Ram never begged for power, instead he used his guts to share the bag of power.

After “independence”, it was Abdul Qaum Ansari who mobilised the Backward Muslims under the Momin Tahreek (movement) proved to be a major challenge to the then Congress-led state government in Bihar. Ansari became a victim of Congress conspiracy. He was keen to ensure a cabinet berth rather than becoming the voice of voiceless marginalised Muslim community.

(Irshadul Haque could be contaced at )

This article first appeared in Dalit Voice, June 2008 Issue.


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