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Yogi remark on quota in AMU, Jamia a bid to break Dalit-Muslim solidarity: Dalit leader

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Dalit body head accuses BJP of shedding ‘crocodile tears’ for the community, points to vacancies in central universities.

New Delhi: A prominent Dalit leader has questioned the intentions of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in calling for Dalit reservation in minority institutions such as the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Millia Islamia.

“The BJP is just trying to break the newly-emerging Dalit-Muslim solidarity in the country with an eye on elections. Neither Dalits nor Muslims will get swayed by the BJP’s crocodile tears for Dalits,” said Ashok Bharti, the chairman of the National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR), and chairman of the International Commission for Dalit Rights.

The UP chief minister had brought up the issue at Kannauj, Sunday. “One question should be raised for all those who are saying that Dalits are being humiliated… when would they ask for reservation for our Dalit brothers in Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia?” Adityanath said at a public meeting.

His latest remark, which comes just months after AMU was embroiled in the controversy over a portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah in the campus, is being taken with a pinch of salt even by Dalit leaders.

“If he (Yogi) is so sincere about reservation, why doesn’t he ensure adequate representation for Scheduled Castes and Tribes in other universities and his own government,” asked Bharti, who was among the Dalit leaders who had called for the Bharat Bandh on April 2 this year, when Dalits protested the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

Last month, ThePrint had reported that over 80 per cent seats reserved for SCs and STs at the level of professors and associate professors at central universities are currently lying vacant. In fact, the worst performing university in this regard was UP’s Allahabad University, where 98.36 per cent of the reserved seats have not been filled.

Yogi, however, is not the first leader to call for reservations in minority institutions. Last year, senior RSS leader Krishna Gopal had said that AMU is committing “a big crime” by not implementing reservation in the university.

A contentious issue

The minority institutions have the law on their side on this issue. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the state cannot compel minority institutions to implement its reservation policy.

“The State might not be well within its constitutional duty to compel minority institutions to accept a policy decision, enforcement of which would infringe their fundamental right and/or protection,” the court had said.

Tahir Mahmood, former chairman of the law commission, argues that it is not “logical” for minority institutions to have reservation for Dalits, unless, “to balance it out”, there is reservation for minorities in general universities.

According to Article 30(1) of the Constitution, all religious and linguistic minorities have the right to run educational institutions, including schools, colleges and universities.

But since coming to power in 2014, the BJP has sought to remove the minority status of both AMU and Jamia. In 2016, the government had told the top court that it would withdraw the appeal filed by the UPA, which had challenged a high court order proclaiming AMU to be a non-minority institution.

As for Jamia, the government opposed an order of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, which had declared it to be a minority institution.

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