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30 March 2013

SPECIAL REPORT: Despite making strides in education, Muslims refuse to forget or forgive unless justice meted out to riots victims

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By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: Muslims of Gujarat are perhaps the most 'talked about' lot in the sub continent. Reasons have been tragic. Most of the times it is about the 2002 that they witnessed survived or lost their near and dear ones.

But, there was another very precious thing that they found suddenly slipping out of their hands. Perhaps it was the pride and dignity with which they were living with.

Loss was irreparable but not impossible, while there were few hands and brains which worked for their destruction and deaths but many more many lakhs of times more were the kind hearts and soft and sensitive hands and pens which not only wrote and spoke for them in their own way not through NGOs alone but there were many who did their bit, irrespective of what religion they belonged to.

Perhaps that is what confirms again and again how much division is tried how much hatred one tries to develop between the two communities their ties are very strong.

Gujarat in the past 11 years after 2002 has moved forward, Muslims can’t forget and forgive unless and until they get complete justice. Whatever, after it many slow and steady changes are taking place in the land of Mahatma.

Muslims have shaken themselves, Muslim girls are studying by and large everywhere in Gujarat, they are coming out and they are ready to equip themselves to lace and learn new skills. In fact, this is the right time when NGOs of international repute and all those sincere efforts from everywhere must come to this land and pick up Muslim women from different strata of the society and decorate them with various useful skills and train them to get themselves educated and empowered and inspire thousands of others. So that the next generations living here are more aware of their rights and duties both and be part of the mainstream and can never be taken for a ride by their own community leaders with vested interest and others.
In a latest gesture, Muslim families from different corners of Gujarat have shown a surprising picture wherein Gujarat saw eight medals in different fields of education going to Muslim students- six girls and two boys. Surprisingly three of them are in Sanskrit.
It speaks a lot.

The 61st convocation of the Gujarat University in fact saw maximum number so far of Muslim students excelling in their streams and winning gold medals.Thus, this year 211 medals were given to 118 students for excelling in different areas. Out of the 118 students, 8 Muslims students were rewarded with 15 gold medals for scaling the summit in their respective streams. There is a substantial increase in the number as last year only 3 medals were given to Muslim students.New light is kindled with such encouraging results’ news coming from students belonging to humble family backgrounds with strong and committed ideas and dreams.

Muslims are fast realising in this enterprising land of Ila Bhatt that it is time to look around and get oneself equipped with education and empowerment.Sheikh Tayab Khan, 23-year-old, who completed BA, has won two gold medals and 5 scholarships in Sanskrit. Sheikh hails from a small village near Devgadh Baria. He says he was attracted towards the language since his school days.

At present, Khan is pursuing BEd from Godhra and lives in a small house at Savllivad.His father is a businessman and brother is a principal at primary school. He says that he is not averse to the language as it is a beautiful and wants to become teacher in the subject. He also practices yoga and is particularly fond of Dhanurasana, Hasta Padasana and others.Yasmin Banu daughter of Waheeda and Nisar Kothari is a 24-year-old girl, who completed BA in Sanskrit has got a gold medal. She studied at Adivasi Arts & Commerce College, located at Santrampur. She teaches at a primary school in the area and says that she wants to become a teacher and preach the language. She also wants to do MA in Sanskrit. She hails from a humble background and her father is a fruit seller. She says education only can free an individual from bondage and make life easy. Time is changing now and women form her community are coming forward.

Shagufta Khan, 21 is a daughter of a retired IAS officer. She bagged all the three medals in Economics, which is considered a tough subject by many. She was a student of St. Xaviers College, Ahmedabad.

Shagufta insists that the violence against women should not be tolerated but women must find themselves equal and education is the only and the best way to become empowered and equipped.Shireen Qureshi is a bio-sciences student who scored 70 percent aggregate marks in B.Sc (Botany) has decided to pursue MSC and then do research in botany. She says if woman of the house is educated it means the future generation has a safe future. And seeing the current times, education is the only way forwardShamima Patel Banu, 22-year-old, who got three gold medals in home science stream, could inspire many. She comes from humble background and her father, who works as a feeder in AMTS, is the one who encouraged her and said that she could continue studying till she wanted. Even her younger sister Hazara Banu is in third year of BA (English). "It is very rare that women from our society are encouraged to venture out and study. But, my father always stood by my side and encouraged me," she says. Now, she is preparing for IAS examination.

Defying stereotypes, a Muslim boy and girl have bagged all three medals instituted for the BA course in the ancient Indian language by the Gujarat University, reports ‘The Indian Express’.Two of the medals for Sanskrit were won by Taiyab Sheikh, a student of Y S Arts and Commerce College in Devgadh Baria in Panchmahals district. The third went to Yasminbanu Kothari of the Adiwasi Arts and Commerce College in Santrampur in the interior of the state's tribal belt.Sheikh got 75.5 per cent marks and Kothari 68.5 per cent.

The medals were awarded at the convocation Tuesday. Sheikh, 23, who is now studying for a B.Ed. degree in a Godhra college, said he was inspired to learn Sanskrit after hearing stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharat told by his teachers in primary school in his village of Tokarwa.He said he wants to be a post-graduate in Sanskrit and pursue teaching it as a career. Sheikh enrolled himself for a BA degree with Sanskrit as his main subject as he failed to get a teaching job in a primary school after doing a teachers training course.

His elder brother is a head master in a government primary school and there was no opposition in the family to him studying Sanskrit. "My parents, who are farmers and not educated, only wanted me to perform well," Sheikh said.Kothari said she developed a liking for Sanskrit when she was in class 12. The daughter of a fruit-seller who studied up to class 12, she too said she did not face any opposition to her choice of the language. "In fact, my father and his friend Rafiq Sheikh, a college teacher, encouraged me to study it," she said.

Yasmeeni teaches at a primary school in Santrampur and like Sheikh, she too wants to do an MA in Sanskrit and work as a teacher."A language does not belong to any community. Anyone can learn any language provided he or she has interest in it," said J R Machchi, Sheikh's Sanskrit teacher."Muslim boys and girls diversifying into other educational fields is a good sign," added J S Bandukwala, a retired Physics professor from M S University who runs Zidni Ilma Trust, which promotes professional and technical education among poor Muslim students.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

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