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Telangana move for 12 percent Muslim quota draws protests

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Hyderabad, July 17 :

Right-wing Hindu groups Thursday staged a protest here to oppose the Telangana government’s proposal to provide 12 percent reservation to Muslims.

Activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal took out a protest march and set fire to an effigy of Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhar Rao. They raised anti-government slogans and demanded that the government drop its move to provide reservation on the basis of religion.

The state government Wednesday decided to constitute a commission headed by a retired judge of the high court to consider increasing the quota for Muslims from existing four percent to 12 percent.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) announced the measure to implement its poll promise to hike the quota.

The state cabinet Wednesday announced several sops for several sections of the society, including minorities. The proposed commission will study the socio-economic backwardness of Muslims and make recommendations to remove it.

Muslims constitute 12.43 percent of Telangana’s 35 million population. The TRS in its poll manifesto promised to provide reservations to the community in proportion to its population.

However, opposition parties raised doubts over the government’s commitment. They pointed out that even five percent reservation announced for Muslims in the united Andhra Pradesh was struck down by the court.

The chief minister, while trying to allay the apprehensions last month, hinted that Telangana may follow Tamil Nadu model to provide reservations to weaker sections of the society.

“Since the weaker sections constitute 85 percent of Telangana’s population, there was a need to make a provision for adequate reservations to them,” he had said.

He pointed out that though the constitution has set the upper limit of total reservations at 50 percent, the Tamil Nadu government extended it to 70 with the provisions of legislation.

The courts had struck down five percent reservation announced by the Congress government for Muslims in education and jobs in 2005 and the government in 2007 had to bring it down to four percent and restrict it to backward classes among the community.

(IANS)