So it'sofficial now. Muslims are not in minority in UP. The High Court ruling on Thursday makes it amply clear that according to census reports, nearly one in five people in the state is a Muslim. Honestly, that is not a great revelation. Anyone who walks on the streets of Allahabad, Lucknow or even Banaras would know the demography.
But the ruling brings into focus several issues that this magazine has repeatedly brought forth. Justice S.N. Srivastava will give his complete verdict after he joins the Lucknow Bench early next month. The sudden flurry of activism by all the interested parties, and some name-calling by the Muslim leaders make the issue brim in ?manufactured outrage?, as Salman Rushdie put it. First, there has been a veritable minefield created by the definition of a minority.
After all the debate, even in Supreme Court it has been hard to find out if one definition of minority in one state can be applicable elsewhere in the country. The fact that there have been three judgements in as many years on the status and privileges enjoyed by the Muslim community was not lost on anyone. The High Court had earlier withdrawn the minority status of Aligarh Muslim University and also ruled that the Haj subsidy given by the government was illegal! So the ruling on Thursday giving clarity on the minority status of Muslims was only a natural corollary.
The crux of the issue is that Muslims form 18.5 per cent of the total population, so where is the question of minority status. By that account every citizen can claim to be belonging to some minority group. But beyond the rhetorics that secular parties would raise, the issue of Muslims losing minority status should alarm Hindus more than Muslims. The scare that Hindus are gradually losing their majority status is getting real.
More than anything, people in Mumbai are worried over the refusal of secular parties to accept repeated clear directions from the courts on minority status of Muslims. The natural logic, according to Hitesh Savant, a college-going student in suburban Mumbai is that, minorities should be rare and under-represented. The under-representation of Muslims happens because of ?insistence of Muslims to go to Madarassas rather than the normal educational schools?. This leads to a large section of Muslim population decidedly remaining unemployable, according to Savant.
The Muslim population, especially in states like UP, is large enough to remove them from minority status. And ?this has been only been reiterated by the High Court?, according to Nirmala, a school teacher in Mumbai. The ruling has not brought about any surprises for the people, though it has set a cat among pigeons for the political parties who will now in all probability try to rake in the Muslim votes.