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Housing needs of Muslims must be addressed: Buddhadeb

Staff Reporter


Opposition terms quota for minorities as political move

CM calls for better education for Muslim youth, girls


KOLKATA: After announcing reservations in government jobs and educational institutes for minority communities, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said here on Sunday that the problem of housing for Muslims must also be addressed.

“There is a problem of housing among Muslims. There are so many large townships coming up everywhere, but how many Muslims will you find living there?” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

Mr. Bhattacharjee said he had already spoken to State Minister for Housing Gautam Deb, Minister for Minorities Affairs Abdus Sattar and West Bengal Minority Development and Finance Corporation Chairman Mohd. Salim on the matter.

Mr. Bhattacharjee suggested a separate housing society to be built for the Muslims. Mr. Bhattacharjee listed lack of opportunities in education, training, employment and inadequate housing as the most serious concerns for Muslims and said his Government was trying to address each one of them.

The State Government's decision to reserve jobs and seats in educational institutions for Muslims has, however, met with severe criticism from the opposition parties that claim the move is politically motivated. They are of the view that the shift in minority vote away from the Left Front during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls is one of the main reasons for electoral reverses suffered by the Left.

Mr. Bhattacharjee emphasised that modern education for the Muslim youth will enable them to prosper. “We are always saying that the Muslim youth should get equal educational opportunities and insist that they learn English, Engineering and obtain vocational training. This is in no way meant to demean Arabic or Islamic religious studies. You can study them simultaneously,” he said.

He said that girls were also coming forward and grabbing opportunities for higher education, which was a positive sign. Of the ten lakh students that appeared for their Secondary examinations this year, over five lakh were girls – a trend that has also been reflected among the minorities, he added.

“We must think ahead and ensure that there are hostels for these girls, when they come to pursue higher studies in colleges and universities in Kolkata,” he said.

Mr. Bhattacharjee also emphasised the importance of vocational training. The State Government has reserved some jobs for Muslims but they will not be enough for the whole community.

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