Millennium Post

Where Gods don’t quarrel

Mewat, the 20th district of Haryana, is unique in many respects. It is considered to be the most backward district in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and is the only district that remained neglected even after India attained Independence. The poor district is still awaiting the fruits of an all-round development despite being represented by the first education minister of India, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

But it is the only Muslim dominated district of Haryana and the only district in the country where a large number of population continues to be bi-religious for the last so many centuries.

Haryana was carved out of the Indian state of Punjab on 1 November 1966, with just seven districts including the district of Jind that got upgraded out of the then Punjab consequent upon the fierce Akali agitation.

In order to facilitate an early division of the then Punjab,  Akalis probably financed Hindi speaking leaders in Haryana region to intensify their agitation. The district of Mewat came into existence after three decades of Haryana taking shape as a separate state.

Mewat was carved out from the districts of Gurgaon and Faridabad, and was initially named as the district of Satyamev by the then chief minister, O P Chautala, thinking the name included the numerically preponderant Muslim ethnic group called Meos, spread out in the district and in the neighbouring districts of Dhaulpur, Bharatpur and Alwar in Rajasthan and Mathura in UP.

The district was renamed on 4 April 2005 as Mewat by the present Chief Minister B S Hooda. The city of Gurgaon, the new millennium city, has been benefitted due to its proximity with Delhi though Mewat, once part of Gurgaon district, continues to be the most backward district as per the parametres of education, health, development, railway, prosperity, literacy, employment etc.

Mewat is mostly a rural Muslim-dominated district in Haryana. More than 75 per cent of its population is Muslim. Eighty-nine per cent of population  in Ferozepur Jhirka Tehsil and 87 per cent in Punhana Tehsil are Muslims. Its headquarter Nuh, also a Tehsil, has 73 per cent concentration of Muslims.

Areas under the present Mewat district were influenced by Islamic principles though they maintained their bi-religious character. The Muslims in the district despite being backward enjoy their socio-religious traditions which are, no doubt, bi-religious. It has been established that the majority population in the district were Hindu-Kshatriyas, Rajpoot and embraced Islam in the 14th century under the regime of Tughlaq and thereafter in the 17th century during the regime of Aurangzeb.

Their descendents have been following the earlier traditions followed by their forefathers prior to their embracing Islam.

The Muslim Meos are proud of their tradition and are naming their wards combining Hindu-Muslim style words. One may find names like Ram Mohammad and Sham Ali and so on. One of Muslim fellow’s father name was Mool Ram. Their marriage and birth ritual are similar to the Hindus as they trace their origin to Hinduism and maintain their social and cultural life even after many centuries. They join in large numbers at sat kumbh mela at the tomb of Saint Shah Chokh twice a year to pay their obeisance in a traditional manner.

The fair is also joined by the Hindus. Muslim males wear turban around their heads and put on long flowing gowns while Muslim females abstain from wearing
The life and style of these bi-religious people has become an inseparable part of our composite culture. These bi-religious people have been enjoying their lives despite putting up in a most backward district.

The Meos have been classified as OBC in the state. Out of total 531 villages in the district, 41 are still uninhabited. Ninety-five per cent population is rural and most of the Muslims are putting up in villages.

The rate of literacy in the district is 44 per cent as compared to 68.59 per cent of the state. As far as education is concerned only 78 per cent villages have primary schools, middle schools in nine per cent, secondary schools in seven per cent and senior secondary schools in just four per cent villages.

Muslim girls prefer to go to Madrasas. There are only three colleges and eight polytechnics including seven ITIs in the district. A great surprise is that only 40 per cent population is active workforce. Only 10 per cent population is covered by the primary healthcare centres, hence, the quacks have been minting huge money.

People are simple and are keen to work hard in the district which consists patches of plain land, hills and rocks of the Aravali range. These people have not changed and lost their original character despite being close to the hustle-bustle of the millennium city and the national Capital.

It is time to act fast to put an end to their economic backwardness and facilitate them to enjoy their bi-religious life.  

Satpal is a communication consultant

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