India: PM Fears Report On Muslims Will be Explosive

October 26, 2006

Source: Adnkronos International

The Indian government is worried about the impact of a report that lists the findings of a committee that was appointed last March to look into the social, economic and education status of Muslims in India. According to sources, the report has essentially detailed data proving that the status of Indian Muslims today is below that of low caste Hindus or dalits, once also known as untouchables. India's prime minister Manmohan Singh has not given any time to Justice Rajinder Sachar (Retired), who had reportedly asked for an appointment to discuss the findings in the report.

The Sachar committee's had been constituted in March last year for a term of 15 months, which expired in June. It was given an extension till October. Justice Sachar, when contacted, said that the term had now been extended till November, and that the October date that had incidentally been printed in all newspapers at the time was a "mistake."

He did not respond to a question about the appointment with the prime minister. Sachar himself had stated earlier this year in a recorded interview that he would be ready with the report before June as most of his work had been completed.

Informed sources said the Indian prime minister is now not keen for an early release of the report, which has been delayed till next month. The Justice Sachar Committee, which had worked hard through the months collecting data, carrying out interviews and meeting respondents in different states, is reported to have been astonished over the findings which have shown a sharp decline in the social, educational and economic status of Muslims. The sources said that the data itself will require serious responses from the government and a strong demand from concerned citizens and political parties for direct action.

The Sachar Committee has received many representations with a detailed appeal by well-known activists and residents of Gujarat giving an insight into the plight of Muslims in that state. Gujarat has a history of religious tension. In March 2002 more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in Hindu-Muslim riots.