Inflation brings 'Imams' on warpath with government

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New Delhi, Jun 23 (UNI) Hit hard by their shrinking incomes, 'Imams'(Muslim relgious leaders) all over the country are up in arms against non-implementation of a Supreme Court order making it mandatory for the Central and State governments to pay emoluments and remuneration to them.

It has indeed been a relentless struggle for the community of 'Imams', who have been knocking the doors of the government to honour the Supreme Court judgement delivered way back in 1993. But their efforts have yielded little results.

While some State governments like Punjab and Haryana have implemented the order of the apex court, the order remains largely unimplemented.

The "Imams,' met in the Capital under the leadership of Maulana Jamil Ahmed Ilyasi, President of All India Organisation Imams of Mosques(AIOIM), to draw up a strategy to fight the injustice they have been meted out. More than 150 'Imams' from Delhi gathered here in this regard.

The Maulana told UNI that he appealed to them that they should not indulge in 'Dharnas' or similar protests but take recourse to only peaceful methods.

"I had in mind the Dharna staged recently by some 'Imams' in Delhi before the Waqf Board for non-implementation of the Supreme Court order," Mr Ilyasi said.

He said he will soon write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard highlighting the status of the implementation order.

"I will also meet Congress president and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to explain to her the pitiable condition of the 'Imams,' who have a very high spiritual status but lead a life of penury.'' The flashpoint has been the recent price rise, which has eroded the disposable income of the Imams.

Mr Ilaysi accused the Congress and the BJP of paying lip service to the Muslim community, with little action on the ground.

"Be it compensation of the Muslim riot victims or implementation of welfare measures for the Mulims or whether income for Imams, these governments have only paid lip service without being sincere about improving the lot of the Imams," Mr Ilaysi said.

The 'Imams' had been given a categorical assurance by former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao that the order would be implemented as quickly as possible. But little has happened, even though the Maulana and his followers have met various leaders from different political parties all these years.

The 'Imams' are socially and politically an important group as they are in some ways leaders of the Muslim Community. Their word is respected by the people as they often act as counsellors and guides to them.

A key reason that the activities of the 'Imams' have heated up is the impending Assembly elections in some states later this year and general elections next year. They feel they have a chance now as no political party can afford to ignore thier claims at the present juncture.

The Maulana said the Sachar Committee has cleary brought out the backwardness of the second largest community and the government ought to have acted more seriously in implementing its findings aad recommendations.


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