Bihar: Protests and politics over OBC status to “Ashraf Muslims”

By Md. Ali,

Patna: A controversy is in offing on the issue of inclusion of Shaikh into OBC category in Bihar. Many backward caste groups, including those among Muslims in the state, have registered their protest with the State Commission for Backward Castes (SCBC) against attempts by Shaikh, an upper caste Muslim group, to get OBC status.

Dalit Muslim Muhim, Trivani Sangh and All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz, are the prominent organizations protesting against the proposal. Shaikh comes just after Syed in the hierarchy of castes in the Muslim community, which is at the top of the list.

All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz is headed by JD (U) Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar

According to Neura Prasad Yadav, member of State Backward Commission, around 8 representations by various organizations including Trivani Sangh, have been made to the Commission against the application by the Shaikh community.

Mockery of social justice

The argument of the groups against this move is that Syed, Pathan, Shaikh and Malliks are in the Muslim community, what Brahman, Rajput, Bhumihar and Kayasth, are among the Hindus. They have traditionally been privileged groups and any attempt to include any of them in OBC will be gross injustice with the backward castes, which have been at the receiving end by these groups themselves for centuries.

Ashok Yadav, another social activist associated with the backward movement pointed out that if Shaikhs will become OBC then, a day will come when Pathans, a community below them, and also Syeds, will pressurize the state government to get OBC status.

How to get OBC status?

Talking to, Mr. Neura Prasad of the State Backward Commission explained that the process of getting OBC status is very rigorous. Before granting any caste the OBC status, that particular caste must establish and prove its educational and social backwardness before the Commission.

The process starts with public hearing after which the delegation of the Commission, goes to investigate into the claims by the concerned group about its social and educational backwardness. It also entertains public objection by any individual and organization against granting that particular caste, the OBC status. Its only the whole process gets done that the Commission recommends to the state government to grant OBC status to that particular caste.

This process prone to political misuse

Talking to this correspondent, Mr. Yadav said the process which Mr. Neura talked about in very serious terms, often gets misused by the state government to suit its vote bank politics.

How Mallicks got OBC status
The classic instance of political misuse of this process is the way Mallick, which is an upper caste among Muslims, was granted OBC status in 2008.

“It was just the narrow-minded vote bank politics of Nitish Kumar and fraudulent practice by the Mallick caste, which ensured it the OBC status,” said Mr. Ashok.

He said that Mallicks, had shown themselves as Teli, a caste among Hindus, in the representation before the Backward Commission.

“Both the government and the backward Commission have already done a grave injustice to the social justice by including Mallicks into OBC; including Shaikhs into OBC will be disastrous for the welfare and development of the backward castes in the state,” said Hassan Pamadiya, another Muslim backward leader from Bihar.

Fact file
The group Other Backward Caste/Class (OBC) has been divided between two groups, Most Backward Caste (MBC) and Economically Backward Caste (MBC). MBC get 14% and EBC get 13 % reservation which total fills up the centrally proposed cap of 27% reservation for OBCs.

Interestingly there are around 38-40 caste among Muslims in Bihar, most of which come in MBC, otherwise there are very few Muslim castes, including Mallicks which come under EBC.

‘Letter asking for OBC favors’

Amid this entire hullabaloo, a letter by AR Qasmi, general secretary of Imarate Shariah, a reputed Muslim organization of Bihar, to the chief minister, Nitish Kumar has become center of attention.

In that letter Mr. Qasmi has thanked him for the inclusion of Mallicks into OBC and has requested him to include the rest 3 caste of the Muslim community, Sayed, Pathan and Shaikh into OBC.

Letter of Maulana Qasmi of Imarat-e-Shariah

Mr. Qasmi confirmed to that indeed he had written that letter. But he defended his stand by saying that, “I don’t want to get into the complicated issue of OBC. What I had said was that Syed, Pathan, and Shaikh should get reservation because of the overall social educational backwardness of the Muslim community itself, a fact which has been proved by Sacchar report and again by Ranganath Mishra Commission report.”

All Muslims of the state will become OBC
The above mentioned castes are the only ones left out of the OBC category. The irony lies in the fact that once these 3 get OBC status, the entire Muslim community in the state will become Other Backward Caste, which will be a wrong social and historical representation of the Muslim society in the state, as argued by Mohammad Saleem, a leader of the Hawwarin community which is equivalent to Dhobis of the Hindus

Khalid Ansari is a socials activist and also a researcher who has followed the backward caste movement in the country very closely. He considered it to be a complete mockery of social justice system.

Hypocrisy of religious leadership?
Khalid had a different take on the letter to the CM by Mr. Qasmi. He argued that, the religious leadership of Indian Muslims has always been very quick to deny presence of the caste system in the community, referring it as exclusive to Hindus.

If that be so, he asked, how can Mr. Qasmi ask for reservation, without invoking caste as the basis of Muslim identity?

So the problem doesn’t lie in asking him for reservations? The problem lies in the hypocrisy and the double standard practiced by the religious leadership of the community, added Khalid.

The point raised by Khalid becomes very important because, the consistent refusal of the Muslim religious leadership to acknowledge caste as a basis of Muslim identity has been an obstacle for the Pasmanda Muslims to get justice.



  1. This is bihar and all buillshit can only happen in Bihar. No wonder that these fake Mualana can go to any extent to restore their lost political identify. They even won't spare Islam from politics. They will never recognize that there is a casteism among Muslims as it will hamper their political interest but they do practice casteim inside and out in their life.

  2. Islam doesnot stand for caste system a social stratification of varna system practiced in hinduism. So why does the caste system exists in muslims, because they donot follow, what they read in their basic book quran.The caste system is not promoted by shafi school of thoughts.The school of thoughts in south asia promote the caste system on the basis of "Kafaa" or status of muslims in religion. Promoters of caste system among muslim were ziauddin barani a noble in the court of Mohammad bin tughlaq.The noblest and pious will be judged on day of judgement by "Taqwaa" a god consciousness.

    The issue of arab origin muslims in India,enjoying reservation are among all so called upper caste or lower caste.In lower caste the majority of ansari community are descendants of Ansars of medina. The companions of prophet Abu Ayub Ansari(Rha)
    His descendents consist of ashraf- ansaris enjoying the benefits of reservation in both central and state lists. The real inhabitants of india the weaver,s community of muslim popularly called julahas, naat, rayeen, dhobi are the true educationally and economically backward.

  3. Caste system a menace to muslim unity.

    There very basis of reservation is farce that is caste, but a economic backwardness.Islam doesnot allow caste system, as the several verses in quran clear indicate the pious and noblest to be one with god consciousness "Taqwaa".

    The arab descent origin are ruling class zamindars, nawabs, and presently ministers representing muslims.The ashraf- ansaris the descendants of Hazrat Ayub Ansari migrated to india with army of Muhammad bin Qasim.How can all ansaris be backward except true weavers ?? They are roadblocks to devlopment of muslims and implementation of ranganath mishra report.The united community is divided by few imperialist funded organisations just as mandal commission did for hindus.

    The Reward of the Those Who Have Taqwa is Better Than All Joys of This World.

  4. it would be more better to get reservation to all muslims. atleast after that there will be no arguements of being called upper or lower castes. now there is still contradiction that syed, pathan, shaikh are upper ones but after reservation we muslims will be only muslims. and mallicks should also try to make their reservation pure, because on what facts they have taken reservation is fake. so syed, mallick, shaikh and pathan all should get reservation on one grounds that muslims are backward, and their should be no arguements.


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