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Who Are the Pasmanda?


In a political conclave in Hyderabad, PM made a special mention for the Pasmanda muslim community and their social upliftment.


GS I-  Salient features of Indian Society

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who are the Pasmanda Muslims?
  2. Why political parties are focusing on them?
  3. What is the history of the Pasmanda movement?

Who are the Pasmanda Muslims?

  • A Persian word, ‘Pasmanda’, means the ‘ones left behind’, and is used to describe depressed classes among the Muslims, while underlining their deliberate or conscious exclusion.
  •  Pasmanda has become an umbrella identity used by backward, Dalit, and tribal Muslims to push back against caste-based discrimination against them within the community.
  • This community has its stronghold in Uttar Pradesh where the Pasmandas account for around 75% of the total Muslim population.
  • In fact, 85% of the total population of Muslims in the country is known as Pasmanda.
  • It is believed that the so-called untouchable Hindu converts are categorised as Pasmanda.
A caste system in minorities
  • Asian Muslims are subject to the caste system in the same manner that Indian society is.
  • Of the Muslims from South Asia, including those who reside in India, 15% are Ashraf, or members of an elite caste.
  • Arzal and Ajlaf, the remaining 85 percent of Muslims, are regarded as Dalits and backward. Arzal implies degraded.

Why political parties are focusing on them?

  • If reports are to be believed then the creamy section of the Muslim society looks down upon them.
  • They are backward and oppressed economically, socially and educationally. This oppressed section among Muslims is called Pasmanda in India.

What is the history of the Pasmanda movement?

  • While the movement to ensure social justice for Pasmandas, and the recurrent use of the term, gathered pace in the post-Mandal era, its best known flag-bearers in the period before Independence were Abdul Qayyum Ansari and Maulana Ali Hussain Asim Bihari, both of whom belonged to the julaha (weaver) community.
  • Both these leaders opposed the communal politics being propagated at the time by the Muslim League, and challenged the League’s claim to represent all Muslims.
  • The first-wave leaders of the Pasmanda movement were leading an anti-colonial, anti-Ashraf, and anti-Mulim League fight.
  • About when the movement actually began,  “India has a history of caste associations across communities. Among Pasmanda Muslims, such caste associations started emerging from 1910 onwards.
  • There were caste collectives of weavers (julahas), butchers (qureshis), cotton carders (mansooris), saifis, rayeens, etc.
  • These were reformist in nature, but also acted like pressure groups led by upwardly mobile lower caste communities.
    • These outfits manifested the new kinds of demands from within the Muslim community.
  • In the 1980s, the All India Muslim OBC Organisation (AIMOBCO) from Maharashtra started spearheading the fight for the rights of Pasmandas, and went on to enlist the unwavering support of Bollywood thespian Dilip Kumar, a Pathan.
  • The 1990s saw the rise of two outfits: the All-India Backward Muslim Morcha (AIBMM) set up by Dr Ejaz Ali, and the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz founded by Ali Anwar.
    • This marked the phase of getting small caste-based outfits among Muslims to close ranks. Several other outfits started to work for the uplift of Pasmanda Muslims across states.

-Source: Indian Express

March 2024