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Plea challenges government resolution on anniversaries ignoring Muslim leaders

A petition has been filed in the Bombay High Court challenging a Maharashtra Government Resolution (GR) drawing up a list of anniversaries of national leaders when official functions would be held in their memory, and alleging that it did not include Muslim leaders.

The petition contended that Muslim leaders have not been included in the list of anniversaries although the community has produced great many political leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Zakir Hussain, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and religious leaders like Khwaja Garib Nawaz.

The petition, filed by Sarfaraz Arzu, Editor of Hindustan, an Urdu daily, Mumbai resident Khalid Muttam and Farid Shaikh, president of NGO Mumbai Aman Committee, would come up for hearing in due course.

The impugned circular was issued on November 30, 2015, and the list includes anniversaries of 26 stalwarts, including Lokmanya Tilak, Yashwantrao Chavan, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap and Vasantrao Naik.

The respondents to the petition are Maharashtra government, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Minority Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse and Minorities Commission Chairman Amir Hussain. “…it is unfortunate that the government has not been able to find a single great figure from the Muslim community.

It is in national interest that students and masses should know that Indian Muslims have done service of the motherland and humanity, but somehow what the people come to know is the gloomy part of some misguided Muslims creating a false Islamophobia,” the petition states.

Arzu alleged that the government has become totally blind to freedom fighters like Abul Kalam Azad and Zakir Hussain, and legends like Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Param Vir Chakra Abdul Hamid, religious leaders like Khwaja Garib Nawaz, Maulana Shaukat Ali, Shahnawaz Khan, Sir Bandruddin Tayabji, Tipu Sultan, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Abdul Gaffar Khan, Ashfaqulla Khan and so on.

“National heroes who are Muslims have been deliberately forgotten and supressed and common young Indian is kept ignorant of their greatness,” he said. “The government in power, which swears by the Constitution, is expected to take all the sections of society in the task of nation-building and public space cannot be appropriated by only one section of the society to the exclusion of others,” he said.

The petition said that the impugned notification has hurt and alienated the Muslim community who feel that there has been hostile discrimination against them by the BJP-led coalition government in Maharashtra.

The notification has been passed without any application of mind and is therefore null and void, it further said. The petitioner prayed that the impugned notification may be quashed and set aside and until the petition is decided finally, a stay may be granted on the GR.

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