Dalit Muslim

Nat (Muslim)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

NatRegions with significant populations
• India • Nepal
Islam 100%
Related ethnic groups
Hindu NatBakhoPamaria

The Nat are a Muslim community found in North India. A few are also found in the Terai region of Nepal. They are Muslim converts from the Hindu Nat caste.
History and origin

The Muslim Nat are a semi-nomadic community, traditionally associated rope dancing, juggling, fortune telling and begging. They are found mainly in the districts of Madhubani, Darbhanga, Samastipur and Patna. They speak Urdu.
Present circumstances

The Muslim Nat are mainly cattle dealers, while a small number are involved in begging. They are one of the most marginalized Muslim communities in Bihar. Almost all the Nat are landless. A small number of Nat have now settled down and are cultivators.

The Nat are strictly endogamous, and generally live in isolation from other Muslim communities in their neighbourhoods. Although they are Sunni Muslims, they incorporate many folk beliefs.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Nat are said to have come originally from Chittaur in Rajasthan. They are found mainly in the districts of Varanasi, Allahabad, Barabanki and Jaunpur. The Nat speak Urdu and Hindi and converted to Islam during the rule of the Nawabs of Awadh, about two hundred years ago. The Muslim Nat consist of number of sub-groups, the main ones being the Aman, Goleri, Mahawat, Rari, Siarmaroa and Turkata. Many Nat are still involved with fortune telling and live a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Most Nat are now landless agricultural labourers, and are in depressed economic circumstances. The Nat are Sunni Muslims, but incorporate many folk beliefs.

In Haryana, they are found mainly in the districts of Faridabad, Gurgaon and Rohtak. They speak Haryanvi, and understand Hindi. Little is known about the circumstances of their conversion to Islam. Historically, the community in Haryana were rope dancers, jugglers and acrobats. The Nat consist of a number of exogamous clans, the main ones being the Dagariya, Sansebar, Baraike, Khoyareke, Paharike, Nangariye, Dhadhasiya, Palike, Jirmichya, Dangiya, Kotiya, Shirkarake, Dilwati, Occhluke, Rashidiya, and Badanke. The Nat are no longer involved in their traditional occupation, and are now largely landless agriculture workers, migrating to different places in search of employment. They are nominally Sunni, but practice many folk beliefs.

Sapera (Muslim)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A snake-charmer of the Sapera caste - Tashrih al-aqvam (1825)

The Sapera are a Muslim community found in the state of Bihar in India. They are also known as Mastan and Ustad.


A snake charmer in Delhi

The Muslim Sapera are Muslim converts from the Hindu Sapera caste. Little is known about the exact circumstances of their conversion to Islam. Sapera in Hindi means snake charmer. Their traditional occupation is snake charming, and they are one of a number of nomadic groups found in North India who might be the ancestors of the Romani community of Europe. The Sapera speak a dialect which is a mixture of Urdu, Hindi and Maithili.
Present circumstances

The Muslim Sapera are found in the districts of Saharsa, Champaran, Sitamarhi and Purnea. They are divided into two groups, the Iraqi and Irani. Both these groups are strictly endogamous, and there is no intermarriage between them. Traditionally a community of snake charmers, most Sapera are now wage labourers, and are one of the most disadvantaged groups among the Bihari Muslims. Although they are Muslims, most Sapera worship a tribal deity known as Bisahari.

Dalit Muslim Castes in india

Below is the complete list of Dalit Muslim Castes in India.


Caste Among Indian Muslims: Causes And ConsequencesIn Research excerpt
By Masood Alam Falahi

[Excerpts from the paper presented by Masood Alam Falahi in Columbia University, New York for “Caste and Contemporary India” conference on 17th Oct. 2009]

Published on the Pasmanda Muslim Forum

Prior to independence of India, it was common that low caste Muslims were not allowed to cook good foods and even not allowed to choose good names for their children.
Presently there are three major categories among Indian Muslims,

(1) Asharaf
(2) Ajlaf
(3) Arzal.

Among these categories there are many sub-castes and in every category there are low castes and upper castes like Hindu caste system.
* Some 25 years ago there was a sufi “Shah Masood” (pupil of famous sufi Shaikh Abdul Qadir Raipuria) in a village Behat of district Saharanpur. He never allowed low caste Muslims to make Pakka (with cement and brick) house in his village.
* In “ Atki” , “ Hind Paddi” villages of district Ranchi in Jharkhand, the Arzal Muslims used to eat in a separate line in marriage ceremony. The same condition is in Barabanki of U.P state . One of my casteist teacher narrated the same story of his village of Azamgarh district, UP.
* Dr. Azmat Siddiqi from Centre for Women Studies of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, told in her speech that in her village “phoolpur” of Allahabd, U.P, ashraf don’t eat food from sweeper / halalkhor community. She was against casteism and once she ate with them. Her cousins boycotted her as she ate with Halalkhor community.
* Professor Imtiaz Ahmad told me the following incident in a meeting, even he writes it in one of his articles:

“We had a Lalbegi woman come to clean the toilets in our house. She was on the best of terms with my mother and would sit for hours together gossiping with my mother. Whenever my mother would offer her pan, she would wrap her hand with her dupatta to receive it. My mother used to drop the pan in her hand, making sure that her hand did not touch the Lalbegi woman’s hand. On occasions of marriage the family would come and sit in a corner and wait until all guests had eaten and left. It would then be given food in vessels they brought with them. They did not eat the food there, but instead took it with them to be eaten at home. On sacrificial eid the family was not given any portion of the meat. It was given the intestines which were kept aside for them. It is possible that some of these forms of discrimination have changed, but there is no evidence to show that they have disappeared.

Some evidence exists to show that there is discrimination against these Muslim castes in the religious spheres. I found during fieldwork in eastern Uttar Pradesh that members of these castes did not go to the mosque for prayers and if they went they had to stand in the back rows. It has been mentioned by many observers that such groups often have their own mosques. N. Jamal Ansari notes that ‘in certain areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar there are separate mosques and burial grounds’ for these castes (Paper presented at the seminar on Dalit Muslims organized by Deshkal Society, New Delhi, 2004). Establishment of own mosque would call for a level of prosperity for the groups as a whole. Whether they have attained such levels of prosperity is something on which very little information exists.”

* Once I visted Nakhas Mohallah (street) of Lucknow on 30th of September 2009. This is a Muslim area. I saw a small mosque with a small madrasa, written on the mosque “Masjid-e-Rayeen” ( Mosque of vegetable sellers). In front of this mosque there is an Imam barah of Imam Baqir, belongs to Shait sect of Muslim. This small masques shows that there is discrimination against the vegetable seller caste, so they made the separate mosque.

* Dr. Ghauth Ansari writes same cases of caste based discrimination in U.P. He also adds that even ‘low’ caste Muslims are not allowed to pray in the mosque some time. They pray out side the mosque.

* The former editor of “Qawmi Morcha” Daily (National Front, Urdu News Paper) (Banaras) Mr. Tajuddin Ash’ar Ram Nagri wrote a letter to me after reading my book. He wrote that before independence of India, Muslim sweepers were not allowed to enter into the mosque in Banaras, U.P.

* In “ Desna” village of Nalanda, low castes are not allowed to sit in the first row of the mosque. Even low caste like Ansari and kalal castes do not allow Pamariya caste to sit in the first row while offering Namaz in the “Pandara” village of Lohar Dagga district.

* In “Ouchwa” the village of Gorakhpur, Upper castes wash the mosque in case somebody from low caste Muslim enters into the mosque.

* The famous news paper “Tehelka” New Delhi reports in its issue dated 18 Nov.2006 AD:

“In Bihar, the Bakkho sub-caste- formally a nomadic tribe- is held by other Muslims to be untouchables despite Islam categorically forbidding any such division… when someone in an upper caste family dies; we go to his house to condole, like we would go to any other Muslim home. But when someone from our caste dies, the upper castes people never come for the same.”

* In Rampur Bariya village of Champaran District of Bihar, a low caste groom was insulted and beaten up by upper caste Muslims because he was sitting on horse. In the same village upper caste Muslims broke the mosque built by low caste Muslims. They also burnt their houses.

* In my village there is only one graveyard and every caste has specific place for burial purpose. I don’t know the exact reason. But there are various reports that upper castes Muslims don’t allow low caste Muslims to bury dead bodies in the common graveyard for community. This is the reason low caste Muslims have separate graveyards.

* In “ Mohabbat Pur” village of Vaishali District in Bihar, Jugal Khalifa died. His dead body was not allowed by Shaikh caste to be buried in the common graveyard as he was a Nat, a low caste Muslim. Police took action and arrested many of upper caste members then only his dead body got buried.

* This is not enough, even in some places the low caste Muslims are not considered as Muslims by upper caste people. I have seen in my district Sitamarhi, Bihar, Shaikh castes consider them only as Muslim and others as non muslims. They use the term “we Muslims” for themselves and for others ‘low castes’ and used to call them with bad names like Julaha, Dhuniya, Kujda, Kasai, Nai etc.

* In some places Upper caste Muslims are taking “badhuwa Mazdoori” (work without pay) by low caste Muslims. Sometimes they have abused their women. They are destroying their houses etc.

Rethinking Pasmanda Movement
By Khalid Anis Ansari

Pasmanda Movement refers to the contemporary caste/class movement among Indian Muslims. Though the history of caste movements among Muslims can be traced back to the commencement of the Momin Movement in the second decade of the twentieth century it is the Mandal decade (1990's) that saw it getting a fresh lease of life. This decade witnessed the formation of two frontline organisations in Bihar [All India United Muslim Morcha (1993) led by Dr. Ejaz Ali and the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (1998) led by Ali Anwar] and various other organisations elsewhere. Pasmanda, a word of Persian origin, literally means 'those who have fallen behind', 'broken' or 'oppressed'. For our purposes here it refers to the 'dalit' and 'backward' caste Indian Muslims which constitute, according to most estimates, 85% of Muslim population and about 10% of India's population.
BY invoking the category of 'caste' Pasmanda Movement (PM) interrogates the notion of a monolithic Muslim identity and consequently much of 'mainstream' Muslim politics based on it. By and large, mainstream Muslim politics connotes to the elite-driven symbolic/emotive/identity politics (Babri Mosque, Uniform Civil Code, Urdu, AMU and so on) which thoroughly discounts the developmental concerns and aspirations of common Muslim masses. By emphasising that the Muslim identity is segmented into at least three caste/class blocks—namely, ashraf (elite upper-caste), ajlaf (middle caste or shudra) and arzal (lowest castes or dalit)—PM dislodges the commonplace assumption of any putative uniform community sentiment or interests of Indian Muslims. It suggests that just like any other community Muslims too are a divided house with different sections harbouring different interests. It stresses that the emotive issues raised by elite Muslims engineer a 'false consciousness' (to use a Marxian term) and that this euphoria around Muslim identity is often generated in order to bag benefits from the state as wages for the resultant de-politicisation of common Muslim masses. When PM raises the issue of social justice and proportional representation in power structures (both 'community' and 'state' controlled) for pasmanda Muslims it lends momentum to the process of democratisation of Muslim society in particular and Indian state and society in general. Besides, PM also takes the forces of religious communalism head on: one, by privileging caste over religious identity it crafts the ground for fomenting solidarities with corresponding caste/class blocks in other religious communities, and, two, by combating the notion of a monolithic Muslim identity it unsettles the symbiotic relationship between 'majority' and 'minority' fundamentalism. In short, PM holds the promise of bringing back Muslim politics from the abstract to the concrete, from the imaginary to the real, from the heavens to the earth!
BUT despite these brave promises PM has been unable to make the impact that was expected of it. Any mass movement must strive to maintain a balance between the 'social' and 'political'. The pioneers of caste movements—Jotiba Phule, E. V. Periyar or B. R. Ambedkar—were quite alive to this notion. Apart from raising radical political demands like the demand for a separate electorate for depressed castes Ambedkar is also remembered for social campaigns like the 'Mahad Satyagraha' and also for raising labour and gender issues on more than one occasion. Periyar too accentuated the 'social question' when inspired by a rationalist worldview he put to fire religious texts (which he considered exploitative) on the streets of Madras. Phule too defied the standard conventions of his day when he decided to open a school for the education of girls. One can scarcely fail to notice the vigorous social and cultural critique of Indian society that they offered both in theoretical terms and in action. PM has unfortunately not taken this aspect seriously.

Right from the days of the All India Momin Conference (its preeminent leader being Abdul Qayyum Ansari) way back in the 1930's to its present post-Mandal avatars it has singularly concentrated on affirmative action (the politics around Article 341 now) and electoral politics at the expense of other pressing issues. It has been completely ineffective in developing a comprehensive alternative social/cultural/economic agenda and the corresponding institutions and mass mobilisation that it necessitates. As a result of this perennial weakness it has failed to preserve an independent outlook and has incessantly been subsumed by one political formation or another. If Momin Conference was assimilated by the Congress, both Ali Anwar and Dr. Ejaz Ali have been co-opted by Nitish Kumar's JD (U) in Bihar. Moreover, it has been lackadaisical in forging alliances with corresponding caste/class movements in other communities thereby shying away from the task of forming a broad coalition of suppressed communities across religious identities or the Bahujan alternative as Phule labelled it. Consequently, it remains captivated by its limited electoral agenda and has been transformed into an easy route for realising the petty political ambitions of the nascent middle-class elite in pasmanda communities. Thus, 'political correctness' often paves the way for the 'politics of desire' of these leaders thereby attenuating the libratory thrust that PM entails in principle.
HOWEVER, if PM is to do justice to its potential it is imperative that it incorporates the 'social' into its agenda. I can think of at least three interventions in this regard as of now and all of them flow from the main features of caste system itself. The caste system is premised on three essential features: (a) the principle of hierarchy in accordance with the elaborate rules of purity-pollution as registered and legitimized in the canonical religious texts; (b) endogamy; and (c) hereditary occupational specialization. All these three features apply to the Muslim community too in varying degrees. While caste as a principle of social stratification is not acknowledged in the Holy Quran (the inclusion of a close category 'class' is a contentious issue though) but for all practical purposes it operates as a category in the Islamic juristic/legal corpus and interpretative tradition as it has evolved in India [See: Masood Alam Falahi, Hindustan Mein Zaat Paat Aur Musalman (in Urdu) (Delhi: Al Qazi Publishers, 2007)]. Moreover, there is some evidence to suggest that the process of Islamisation has only worked to reinforce rather than weaken or eliminate caste distinctions. Endogamy is still rampant in Indian Muslims as the various matrimonial columns in the newspapers/internet testify. As far as the link of caste with hereditary vocation is concerned the market economy has eroded it to some extent but still a large number of pasmanda Muslims find themselves engaged in caste-based callings.

Due to the above mentioned trajectory of caste in Indian Muslims the task seems clearly cut-out for PM. One, it must offer a critique of the Islamic interpretative tradition as it has evolved in India and if possible construct an alternative Islamic hermeneutics from the perspective of the marginalised. The dalit/bahujan movement has often rejected Hindu religion in totality and located its philosophical and ideological roots in the Indian mode of dialectical-materialist discourse and in their day-to-day interaction with nature. Hence, their epistemology has had a strong material basis and also inclination to link itself to the production process of the Indian subcontinent as expressed historically in the discourses of Lokayats or Buddhism. PM, however, has correctly critiqued and protested the casteist interpretations of Islam forwarded by the Indian ulema and has reclaimed the strong emphasis of Islam on social equality. But what is its take on economic equality on which Islam is presumably silent? Is it willing to interrogate the interpretative methodologies of 'imperial' Islam which has been bequeathed us and is being constantly indoctrinated to pasmanda students via the obfuscating and unimaginative curriculum and pedagogical practises in Islamic seminaries (madrasas)? Is it willing to discover the rationalist and progressive trends in Islamic history (the Mutazila and Qaramita for instance)? How does it relate to the materialist tradition in Indian society as earlier mentioned? How does it relate to the liberation theology movements in contemporary Islam in other locations (in South Africa for instance)? Two, broad campaigns and effective social interventions need to be undertaken to encourage inter-caste marriages (and also love marriages!) in Muslim society. There is a strong link between caste and patriarchy in India. By resorting to these measures caste politics will be engendered and set on the libratory track. Three, a rigorous analysis of the Muslim working class is imperative and strategies must be designed accordingly. The entire politics of reservations concentrates on challenging the monopoly of upper-castes in the organised public sector which constitutes only a small—though privileged—segment of the job market. While this is essential it only affects society indirectly by democratising the state in the long run. A majority of pasmanda Muslims, however, work in adverse conditions and depressed wages in the unorganised sector (which constitutes about 90% of Indian employment) either as labourers in sectors where caste plays a minimal role (farms, brick kilns, construction industry, bidi manufacture etc.) or in caste determined vocations (as weavers, potters, oil-pressers and so on). PM would do well to make common cause with movements that are working towards compressing this huge gap between the 'organised' and 'unorganised' sector at a macro level and also think of organising caste based occupations in cooperatives or retraining those skilled workers whose traditional skills have dated and no longer generate an appropriate demand in the market. However, I must stress here that the above mentioned suggestions are provisional in nature and not well-formed intellectual positions as yet and I merely offer them here for a debate among individuals and groups who sympathise or are connected to the PM is some way. Also many more issues could be taken up and added to the list—for instance, education, health, environment, models of development, art, popular media et al immediately come to my mind.
BESIDES, I also feel a need to reconsider the icons that have been selected by the PM because the semiotics of any movement arguably defines and circumscribes its politics. Three personalities have usually been celebrated by the movement: Baba-e-Qaum Abdul Qayyum Ansari, Veer Abdul Hameed and Ustad Bismillah Khan. Abdul Qayyum Ansari, who belonged to the julaha (weaver) community, challenged the 'two-nation theory' and Muslim League politics squarely but failed to see through the caste/class composition of the Congress politics and was ultimately subsumed by it. Abdul Hameed, who belonged to the darzi (tailor) community, was awarded with the highest gallantry award Paramveer Chakra posthumously for his bravery and martyrdom in the Indo-Pakistan war. Ustad Bismillah Khan, who belonged to the halalkhor (sweeper) community, as we all know, was a renowned musician. I do not intend to underestimate their achievements but it must be said that all these icons are problematic in terms of their libratory impact. While Abdul Qayyum Ansari's career ended in a political compromise and could not transcend the immediacy of electoral politics, Abdul Hameed's contribution on the other hand entails a danger of succumbing to apologetic nationalism (as was evident in the emotive slogans and songs inspired by his life that were rendered in the Pasmanda Waqaar Rally held in Patna recently on 1st July 2008). Moreover, Bismillah Khan's symbol is so innocuously apolitical as to make us speculate if it serves any purpose at all. Can PM move beyond these icons and rediscover more libratory figures in history? Can Kabir—with his working class background, his unflinching critique of both 'Hindu' and 'Muslim' religious pretensions and obscurantism and above all his explicit positioning against the caste system—be offered as a candidate here? Can other libratory symbols from Islamic and Indian history fit the bill?
All in all, the crux of the argument submitted here is that PM needs to grow beyond quota politics and rethink its abnegation of the social/cultural/economic aspects of the movement. Along with its present accent on democratisation of the state it would do well to also consider the more far-reaching issue of the democratisation of society at large. PM needs to engage in a balancing act between the 'political' and 'social'. This will create the much desired synergy necessary for launching the libratory promise of PM on track.
[The author is a member of a research-activism group called The Patna Collective]
E-Mail: khalidanisansari@gmail.com;

Muslim Dalits (Arzal)

Muslim society in India can also be separated into several caste-like groups. Descendants of indigenous lower-caste converts are discriminated against by "noble", or "ashraf", Muslims who can trace their descent to Arab, Iranian, orCentral-Asian ancestors. There are several groups in India working to emancipate them from upper-caste Muslim discrimination. The Dalit Muslims are referred to by the Ashraf and Ajlaf Muslims as Arzal or "ritually degraded". They were first recorded in the 1901 census as those “with whom no other Muhammadan would associate, and who are forbidden to enter the mosque or to use the public burial ground”.
They are relegated to "menial" professions such as scavenging and carrying night soil. Babasaheb Ambedkar, a renowned Dalit activist and the framer of the Constitution of India, wrote about the Dalit Muslims and was extremely critical of their mistreatment by upper-caste Muslims quoting that "Within these groups there are castes with social precedence of exactly the same nature as one finds among the Hindus" .

In Pakistan, there are estimated to be 6.8 million Mayazurs (bonded laborers) inPunjab and another 7.5 million in Sindh. Although the Pakistani Supreme Court has ruled bonded labor unconstitutional and the National Assembly has passed laws prohibiting it, these laws remain largely unenforced due to the influence of large landlords. . Furthermore, the AIBMM is striving to achieve the SC status forIndia's Dalit Muslims. The lowest of among the Muslim communities is a "Muhajir". They are mainly assigned the position of a laborer and looked down upon by the ashraf.
Filmmaker: Mostafa Bouazzaoui

For centuries India's social structure was built around a rigid Hindu caste system. While the caste system was constitutionally abolished in 1950, its legacy still deeply affects contemporary Indian society.

The Hindu population, around 84 percent of the 1.2 billion people that live in the country, is still influenced by the four main traditional castes, which also have their own sub-sects: Brahmins, the priestly and academic class; Kshatriya, the warrior caste; Vaishya, which comprises the business community; and Shudra, the working class.

Garbage pickers already live in hell from the day they're born. It's not their fault they're born into a lower caste. All of this gets dumped on them. If you're born into a lower caste you suffer the worst type of slavery. Converting to another religion doesn't change anything and this includes Islam.

Ashif Shaikh, director of the NGO Jan Sahas, which works towards abolishing manual garbage picking in Madhya Pradesh

Outside these four groups are others, including the Dalits, who are at the bottom of the hierarchy.
Dalits have traditionally done jobs considered ritually impure, like garbage collection, street sweeping, the cremation of dead bodies and the disposal of human waste.
With Dalits continuing to face prejudice and discrimination within their own communities, some try to find social acceptance byconverting to Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism or Islam.
"It bothers me whenever I introduce myself. People ask about my surname," says Rakesh, who's a dhobi, the washerman caste.
Rakesh has converted to Islam and changed his name to Ali Kanojia.
"I tell them my name is Rakesh. They ask, 'Rakesh what?' They normally ask you this at a Hindu's house," he says.
But conversion is not simply a way out - prejudices still carry over into other religions. Many converts face resistance and even violence from their families or the communities they were born into and the new chosen faith can pose a different set of challenges - like those faced by Ali Kanojia from his own family.
"It's not easy to convert to Islam," he says. "They [the family] say it's not right. I ask, Why? They say it's because Muslims have a bad reputation."
Abdulrahman Bharti's conversion to Islam almost cost him his life.
"I got shot by Hindu people from the Sawar clan ... . When a person converts, the new religion welcomes them, but people from the old religion try to stop them. If they can't, they'll try to kill them. This happened to me," says Bharti who was shot in the chestand leg.
After independence in 1947, the Indian government introduced positive discrimination in favour of low caste groups, but not everyone enjoys the same benefits.
It’s a highly complex benefit structure with certain jobs, education opportunities and political representation reserved for different social and religious groups.
The Reservation Act covers a wide range of eventualities, but for Dalits the disadvantages of conversion may arguably outweigh the advantages, especially when it comes to jobs.
"The protection includes Sikhs and Jains, and Buddhists, but it doesn't include Christians and Muslims, so what happens is that they get excluded from those - the quotas for SCs [Scheduled Castes]," says Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch.
Kanojia, for instance, has not been able to get a government job.
"If you don't have a lower caste certificate you won't get a reserved job. I don't have the lower caste certificate. My parents were illiterate and had little understanding of things... I can't get a job anywhere," says Kanojia.
Set primarily in Mumbai and in the Madhya Pradesh countryside, this film provides an insight into conversion to other religions - the social reformer and principal architect of the Indian constitution, BR Ambedkar, was born a Dalit and converted to Buddhism and many followed in his footsteps - and the processes for finalising conversions.
We hear the personal stories of different Dalit Muslims and the campaign of one man, descended from Muslim converts, to end garbage picking and discrimination against Dalits in Madhya Pradesh.
This is part of a broader struggle where castes, clans and religions determine the course of millions of lives.
Source: Al Jazeera

Untouchability Among Muslims
July 15, 2016
A recent study provides empirical evidence of presence of untouchability among Muslims

By Maqbool Ahmed Siraj

Does untouchability exist among Muslims?

A recent study by the Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow, confirms that it does. The study based on a survey of 7,195 households located across 14 districts in four regions of Uttar Pradesh shows that despite Islamic sacred text’s claim of equality, the Muslim society in Uttar Pradesh maintains distinctions and practices discriminations based on caste. This survey was carried out between October 2014 to April 2015. The study was done by Prashant K. Trivedi, Srinivas Goli, Fahimuddin and Surinder and a report based on its conclusion was published in the Economic and Political Weekly, in its issue dated 15 January 2015.

Caste based stratification is distinct feature of Indian society. Caste based inequality manifests itself in concepts like someone being pure or impure by birth; ascending order of holiness and descending order of lowliness; untouchability or unseeability; endogamy (i.e., marrying within one’s own community); one’s association with certain occupations; and inclusion or exclusion in matters of dining, habitation, social interaction etc. While caste may be a distinctive feature of Hindu society drawing its legitimacy from the scriptures, it has influenced, nay infected all communities inhabiting India. While the former untouchables among Hindus were included in the scheduled castes category in the Constitution for affirmative action (reservation in education, employment and political representation), those among the Buddhists and Sikhs were brought under this in different stages. But the State maintained that Muslims and Christians following faiths of foreign origin, do not practice untouchability or are not affected by this practice.

‘Unclean Professions’

The Mandal Commission Report included Muslims in the Other Backward Castes (OBC) category and certain caste among Muslims were categorized for reservation. But there was staunch opposition to inclusion of Dalit Muslims in SC category even though evidence was available that members of occupational groups like Halalkhor, Lalbegi, Bhatiyara, Nachi, Pasi, Pamaria, Nat, Bhant, Khakrob (sweeper), Mehtar (Scavenger) etc suffered from discrimination just as former untouchables did among the Hindu communities. Authors like Aftab Alam, Ali Anwar etc had pointed out that uppercaste (Ashrafs) Muslims refused to drink water from the utensils shared by Dalit Muslims. In some cases, their areas of burial were marked in Muslim graveyards and even more disturbingly, they were served leftovers in congregational feasts, were segregated in mosque etc. Yet lack of empirical evidence kept them excluded from the SC category and there was continued refusal to recognize Dalit Muslims as distinct from non-Dalit Muslims. While among the Hindus those who followed these occupations were known as untouchables, the Muslim community knew them as Arzals.

Textual Equality

The study notes that establishing untouchability among Muslims is a tough task as most Muslims take shelter behind the textual equality of Islam and refuse to recognize the practical realities of the day-to-day life and interactions. According to data collected by this household survey, a substantial proportion of the Dalit Muslims report that they do not receive an invitation from non-Dalits for wedding feasts, etc. Since Dalit Muslims lived in separate enclaves in villages and towns and were thus excluded from categories of invitees (which is mainly on the basis of sharing the neighbourhoods or relationships), it was a historical fact that they suffered from segregation of living areas.

Then there were three different indicators of differential treatment i.e., 1- they are assigned seats in separate rows in non-Dalit Muslim feasts, 2- they ate after the uppercaste Muslims had finished their meals, 3- they were served meals in different utensils.

Around 8% of Dalit Muslim respondents report that their children are seated in separate rows in classes and also during mid-day meals in their schools. To elicit a response of Dalit Muslims on discrimination in religious spaces, a query on burial grounds was posed to them. At least one-third of them state that they are not allowed to bury their dead in an upper-caste burial ground. Most of the Muslims offer prayers in the same mosque, but in some places Dalit Muslims felt discriminated against in the main mosque. A significant section of Dalit Muslims also feel that their community is seen as being associated with menial jobs. Respondents who studied at the madrasas were found to be more vocal about the untouchability they have experienced.

Exclusionary Measure

Treatment of Dalit Muslims in uppercaste (Ashraf) homes was yet another indicator. Around 13% Dalit Muslims report having received food/water in different utensils in upper-caste Muslim houses. This proportion is close to 46% in the case of upper-caste Hindu homes. Similarly, around one-fifth of the respondents felt that upper-caste Muslims maintained a distance from them, and one-fourth Dalit Muslims went through similar experiences with upper-caste Hindus.

The study concludes that untouchability is not confined to only Hindus. It says, “It (untouchability) spreads far and wide and perhaps no Indian religious community can escape it, including the Muslims. However, one has to admit that when it comes to enforcing these social sanctions with zeal, upper-caste Muslims are no match to their Hindu counterparts.

Realities of ‘Lived Islam’

The study finds no ground to keep the Dalit Muslims excluded from the SC category of reservation and says ‘lived Islam’ rather than ‘textual Islam’ should be taken into consideration while state formulates the policy.

(For more content on the subject, log onto: http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/15/insight/does-untouchability-exist-among-muslims.html#sthash.f4jIuNUf.dpuf)

Category: Special Report

Muslim Dalits demand parity with other Dalits
By Andalib Akhter

Ram Kumar Hindu dhobi hai. Use sarkar ne saari sahulat de rakhi hai. Use naukri se lekar padhai tak har jagah sahualt militi hai. Lekin main ek Musalaman dhobi hoon isliye mai in tamam sahulaton se mahroom hoon". (Ram Kumar is Hindu dhobi. From education to job, the government has given him all facilities. But I am a Muslim dhobi. So I have been debarred from all these facilities.)— Ghulam Rasool from Bihar.

"Mere gaon ka Mohan Prasad ek Hindu mochi hai. Sarkar ne use Indira Awas ke tehat pakka makan banwa diya hai. Mai Muslim mochi hoon. Mai pakka makaan men nahi rah sakta kyon ke main SC men nahin ata hoon." (Mohan Parasd of my village is a Hindu cobbler. The government has made him a concrete house under Indira Vikas Yojna. I am a Muslim cobbler. I have no right to live in concrete house as I have not been included in the list of SC.)— Muhammad Karim from UP

These are not mere statements of Ghulam Rasool and Muhammad Karim who attended an Insaaf Conference (justice conference) in Delhi recently to highlight their plight. It reflects the aspirations of crores of underprivileged Indian Muslims, who have been prevented from getting the help of government other Dalits get under the Article 341 of the Constitution.

Article 341 provides the status of Scheduled Castes to Dalits. It also provides special aid and facilities for the advancement of Schedule Castes people in every walk of life. But para 3 of the article imposes religious restrictions making the provision applicable only to those who profess Hindu religion. Members of all religious minorities are debarred.

There was no religious restriction in the law passed in 1935 for the same purpose. Dalits of all religion were entitled to avail of this facility. In 1950, members of all minority communities were debarred from this facility by a presidential order through which a religious ban was imposed. However, two amendments were made in this order and thereby two minorities, Sikhs (1956) and neo-Buddhists (1990) were re-included in this category. But Muslims and Christians have still been out.

"Is not it an injustice to Muslims and Christians? Are not they Indian? Are not they underprivileged ?", asks M Ejaz Ali, who organised the conference in Delhi under the banner of All India United Muslim Morcha (AIUMM). It demands the removal of the religious ban from article 341. Interestingly, the conference witnessed Muslim leaders of all hues, including Maulana Asad Madani of Jamiatul Ulema-e- Hind, Maulana Asrarurl Haq Qasmi of Milli Council, Shia leader Kalbe Jawwad, and others. Besides them, several Hindu leaders also came up in support of the demand. Former Union minister Chaturanan Mishra and Dalit leaders Udit Raj and JN Nishad made fervent appeals to the Union government to amend the article in favour of Muslims and Christians.

Supporting the demand of underprivileged Muslims, chairman of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisation, Udit Raj said, "We have to fight together to remove this religious ban from Article 341, which will bring all Dalits under one category in the Constitution also". Maulana Asad Madani observed, " Though Islam does not believe in caste system, it is not proper for the Government of India to debar a deprived section of Muslims from the official benefit of reservation and other facilities merely because they are followers of Islam".

According to AIUMM, 85 percent of Indian Muslims live below poverty line, 90 percent are homeless and landless. "The root cause of this drastic downfall in the educational, economic and socio-political parameters of the majority of Indian Muslims in last 50 years is their exclusion from the purview of Article 341", says Ejaz Ali. As a result, the community has to eke out a living through rickshaw-pulling, biri making, work as casual labour, scavenging, toddy-tapping, cobbling, weaving, tailoring, vegetable and fruit selling, fishing, cycle puncture repair and garbage lifting. If nothing is available, begging.

The AIUMM believes that had Muslims not been in the need of such support, the Constituent Assembly would have excluded minorities from this article from the very beginning. It also says that a religious ban is itself against the fundamental rights provided under Article 14 (equality before law), Article 15 (prohibition of discrimination on the ground of religion ) Article 16 (equal opportunity in public employment ) and Article 25 (right to freedom of religion). The religious bar is against the letter and spirit of secularism. "If two minorities were reincluded in this category, why not the other minorities also?", asks AIUMM.

Bihar Legislative Council passed a bill in 1999 in favour of Dalit Muslim reservation. In the same year, Ramjethmalani, the then Union law minister, during discussion in parliament on extension of period of SC/ST reservation for another 10 years, told the house that the government was considering inclusion of Dalits converted to Islam and Christianity in SC category.

The issue was raised in the Lok Sabha on many occasions by RJD’s Raghuansh Prasad Singh. The Government of West Bengal has directed the state Commission for Backward Classes to take necessary action on the issue. In its recommendation No. 240, National Commission for Review of Working of the Constitution has also mentioned this issue

Muslim and Christian Dalits are denied their dues
by Dr Anis Ansari

Constitution of India has been written with the intentionof preserving secularism and human rights. All the people have been accorded the status of equality under its Article 14. Article 15 provides for guarantee of equal rights to all the citizens in educational institutions. Article 16 gives the guarantee of equal rights to all the citizens in government services. On the basis of these three Articles, no discrimination can be meted out to any citizen in the name of his or her religion, race, caste, sex, birth or place of residence.

Under Article 25 all the people have been given guarantee of freedom of religion and faith. It is a matter of happiness that besides the legal guarantee under the Constitution, Indian society, in general, believes in giving the status of equality to all.

Despite all these arrangements, Government of India has put the condition in Para-3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 that the facilities admissible to the Scheduled Castes under Article 341 would be extended to only those people who are Hindus, Sikhs or neo-Buddhists. Due to this religious discrimination, Muslim and Christian Dalits have been deprived of those rights in the matters of government educational institutions, government services and other issues, which are being enjoyed by those similar to them following Hinduism, Sikhism or neo-Buddhism since 1950.

The thing that hurts the Muslim and Christian Dalits the most is the act of reserving the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha seats for scheduled castes in the areas where Muslims are in a good number or they are in majority. This act has deprived the Muslims and Christian Dalits from contesting on these seats.

In the elections that were held for constitution of 15 Lok Sabhas from 1952 till date, about 540 seats, which have been kept reserved in the Muslim dominated areas, would have been won by the Muslim and Christian Dalits in these areas. The gravity of this loss could be gauged by the fact that so far 450 Muslim members have been elected to the Lok Sabha and they have been kept deprived of 540 seats. Similarly, Muslims would have got over 3000 additional seats in Vidhan Sabhas from 1952 till date if the Muslim and Christian Dalits were not deprived of the rights given to scheduled castes. Due to blocking the representation of Muslim and Christian Dalits in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas in such a big number, the Muslims have been kept deprived of their rights in various sectors of development. The lesser representation of Muslims and Christians in political institutions has also given way to discrimination against them in other areas.

The communal scenario and objective of this paragraph is well evident from the fact that if any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist scheduled castes converts to Islam or Christianity, he/she will be deprived of all those facilities which were admissible to him/her under Article 341 from the very day of conversion and if the same person again returns to Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism, his/her rights will all be revived from the same day. It would be appropriate to say that the arrangement in Para-3 has been made with the intention of luring the Muslim and Christian poor people towards converting themselves to Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism. On the other hand this Para has also been inserted with the intention to discourage the people of scheduled castes under the Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism from converting themselves to Islam and Christianity with the temptation of Article 341. In our view, through this paragraph the poor Muslims have been lured into giving up Islam.

A writ petition against this Para-3 was filed in the Supreme Court in 2004 on the basis that this para violated the rights given to Muslims and Christian Dalits under Articles 14, 15, 16 and 25. For filing its counter affidavit in this petition, the central government constituted Rangnath Mishra Commission in 2005. In 2007, Rangnath Mishra commission advised the central government to abolish Para-3, because this Para not only violates Articles 14, 15, 16 and 25 of the Constitution, but it is also unjust. Recently, National Minority Commission has said in its counter affidavit in the Supreme Court that Para-3 should be abolished. National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes has said in its counter affidavit before the Supreme Court that Muslim and Christian Dalits should also be given the rights of Scheduled Castes but such a dispensation should not adversely affect the Scheduled Castes belonging to Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. The Government of India has not so far submitted its point of view in the court despite the directives given by the Supreme Court in this regard. Hence the Supreme Court is not in a position to deliver its verdict in this case.

It may be recorded that Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav in his capacity as Chief Minister of Bihar and Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh had got passed a resolution in their respective Vidhan Sabhas for abolition of Paragraph-3 and sent it to the Government of India.

Ms Mayawati, national president of Bahujan Samaj Party writing three letters to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on 02 September 2005 demanded that since till now no religious minority was being given reservation on the basis of its religion, therefore the unjust condition inserted under the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 that the benefit of reservation is given to the members of scheduled castes belonging only to Hinduism, does not have any justification. Recommending the abolition of Para-3, she wrote that the abolition of this para would also do away with the fear of Hindu Scheduled Castes that they could not adopt any other religion of their choice.

We consider this unconstitutional and unjust black law against the fundamental rights given in the Constitution of India and against the secular nature of Indian society and demand from the government of India to abolish this black law immediately.

In this context, we appeal to all the voters when any candidate seeks vote from them, they should support him on the condition that the candidate would make sincere efforts for abolition of Para-3. The candidate who does not favour the abolition of this religious discrimination should be told that they would not vote for them.

We appeal to all the organisations to start working among voters in their respective areas for making this resolution effective.

Dr Anis Ansari is a retired IAS officer.
He is presently Vice Chancellor,
Khwaja Muniddin Chishti Urdu, Arabi-Farsi University,

Mochi (Muslim)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

MochiTotal population
(3,431,000 [1])
Regions with significant populations
Pakistan• India• Bangladesh
• Urdu in India • Bengali in Bangladesh • Panjabi in Pakistan.
• Islam 100% •
Related ethnic groups
• chose from Chamar to islam

Mochi are a community, found in North India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They are the traditional shoemakers of South Asia.


They are mainly chamars, who chose Islam as their religion during mid 14th to 16th century AD. The community was also involved in the manufacture of protective leather dresses for soldiers and as such were closely associated with army. The word mochi is derived from the Sanskrit mochika, meaning a cobbler. Traditionally, the Mochi was the cobbler and shoemaker of village India.

Muslim Mochi of Uttar Pradesh
The Muslim Mochi in Uttar Pradesh are further divided into biradaris, which theoretically descend from a common ancestor. Marriages are preferred within the biradari, with the Mochi practising both cross cousin and parallel cousin marriages. Major Mochi clans include Bagri, Barwar, Bargujar, Gaur, Jadon, Jat and Shaikh. The Mochi are found in multi-caste villages, occupying their own distinct quarters. Each settlement contains a biradari pamchayat or caste council, which acts as an instrument of social control, as well as dealing with intra community disputes. The Mochi have also set up the Uttar Pradesh Muslim Mochi Sangh, which acts as a community lobbying organization. They have now been granted Other Backward Classes status, which allows them to access a number of affirmative actions schemes by the Government of India.
The community found throughout Uttar Pradesh, however the districts of Lucknow and Faizabad have a greater concentration. They speak various dialects of Hindi, such as Awadhi, although many understand Urdu. The Mochi are entirely Sunni, but like Uttar Pradesh Muslims, they are divided by the Barelvi Deobandi split.
Muslim Mochi of Punjab
In Punjab, the word Mochi signifies a worker in tanned leather, as distinct from a tanner. The Muslim Mochi of Punjab is said to be by origin Chamar to Islam. However, the exact circumstance of their status is unclear. Historically, Muslim Mochi were found throughout Punjab, but like other Muslim groups, they had to emigrate from Indian Punjab at the time of partition of India. Like those of North India, the Mochi in Punjab is further divided into a number of clans, called gots from the Sanskrit gotra, or clan. The Shirazi sub-division claim themselves to be superior to the other gots on account of their alleged descent from Iranian immigrants. Historically, the Mochi practiced clan exogamy, but this is no longer the case, with marriages taking place with close kin. Below is a list of the other major gots:
The Mochi in rural Punjab is still dependent on the local landlord, who acts as patron. Often, the Mochi does not own his property, but rents from the landlord. The Mochi is thus entirely dependent on the locally dominant caste, and are paid from each cash crop at the end of the harvesting season according to a system called seypi. Presently, many Mochis are no longer involved in their traditional occupation of shoemaking. Many are now landless agricultural labourers. Overall, the condition of the Mochi community in Punjab has worsened. There has been a marked shift towards manufactured shoes, which has seen a severe decline in their traditional occupation. Many of their patrons from the locally dominant castes such as the Jats no longer pay the traditional seypi. Unlike in India, the Government of Pakistan has not provided any affirmative actions programmes. As such, the Mochi are one of the most vulnerable ethnic community in Pakistan, and are often victims of societal discrimination. The Mochi are entirely Sunni and speak Punjabi.

Dalit Muslim

Dalit Muslim refers to Hindu Untouchables also called Dalit converts to Islam. Approximately 100 million Dalit Muslims live in India

Dalits have been oppressed in the Hindu society due to Caste system. Despite conversion Dalit converts have not overcome discrimination and oppression as the Caste System is strongly ingrained presence in Indian society. They have faced discrimination from within the Muslim community.

Dr. Aftab Alam, a political scientist, states:
"But caste and untouchability is a lived reality for Muslims living in India and South Asia, and untouchability is the community's worst-kept secret."

Muslim and Christian Dalit converts lose Reservation which is only available to Dalits who follow Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism under the Indian Government Reservation policy. National Commission for Minorities has suggested extending reservation to Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians.

‘Muslims, Lingayats were Dalits who converted
Expressing dissatisfaction over many Lingayat community members adopting Vedic religious practices, progressive writer Ramzan Darga said Muslims and Lingayats were basically Dalits who had converted in the historical junctures.

He was addressing a Dalit conference here on Monday. “Basaveshwara climbed down the social ladder to become one among the vast majority of oppressed and untouchable masses. He mobilised large sections of labouring masses in the fight against the Brahminical practices such as untouchablity. Large Dalit sections that followed Basavanna in the historical revolution later came to be known as Lingayats. Now, the many members of this community are insulting Basaveshwara by embracing Brahminical practices,” he said.

Prof. Darga called upon for collective action of Dalits, minorities, communists and rational thinkers, who he said were the primary enemies of communal forces. He strongly advocated Dalit leadership in the fight against right-wing forces. “Dalits are the real heroes without whose leadership, the battle against right-wing communalism cannot be won. Integrated-whole philosophy of Buddha-Basava-Ambedkar should be the guiding principle of India,” he said.

Reservation opposed
He strongly opposed reservation by stating that there must be caste-based reservation as long as there would be caste-based discrimination and exploitation.

“The opposition to reservation stems from the zeal to keep a large section of oppressed communities in a state of slavery,” he said.

Millions of Dalit Muslims face caste discrimination
An estimated 100 million or more “Dalit Muslims” live in India. Activists and social scientists argue that affirmative action policies for ‘scheduled castes’ should also apply to this group.

The caste-related problems of India’s Dalit Muslims are rarely addressed, neither by the government nor their own religious community. Contrary to Dalit Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, they are not classified in the ‘scheduled caste’ category, but the fact remains that they often face similar types of discrimination as fellow Dalits of other religious backgrounds.

This has yet again been confirmed by a survey assessing ‘untouchability’ practices by non-Dalit Muslims and Hindus towards Dalit Muslims in the state of Uttar Pradesh. It clearly shows that such practices do exist – although at a lower level than caste discrimination against Dalit Hindus.

Almost a third of the survey’s respondents state that they are barred from burying their dead in an “upper-caste” burial ground. Many Dalit Muslims are not invited to non-Dalit weddings. Some are seated separately at non-Dalit Muslim feasts and have to eat later than people from dominant castes. Some children are seated separately in classrooms and during lunch breaks. And a significant proportion of Dalit Muslims feel that “upper-caste” Muslims and Hindus distance themselves from them.

“It leaves no room for any confusion that the practice of untouchability is not confined to Hindus alone. It spreads far and wide and perhaps no Indian religious community can escape it, including the Muslims. However, one has to admit that when it comes to enforcing these social sanctions with zeal, upper caste Muslims are no match to their Hindu counterparts,” the researchers behind the survey concluded in an article in the Economic and Political Weekly.

The exact number of Dalit Muslims in India is unknown. The official number of Muslims (as per the 2011 census) is approximately 172 million, and according to some estimates, as many as 75 per cent of them are Dalits. If this is the case, the number of Dalit Muslims would by far exceed 100 million, and there would be more than 300 million Dalits altogether in India.

Apart from the lack of official classification as ‘scheduled castes’, the plight of Dalit Muslims receives less attention because Muslims clerics consider the caste system – and the ensuing discrimination – un-Islamic. Hence they refuse to acknowledge that caste discrimination can take place among Muslims. The gap between the living standards of Dalit and other Muslims is also less significant than among other groups.

“The Muslim community as a whole tends to be very badly off compared to other communities, especially in the urban areas, and consequently the intra-community gap between Dalits and non-Dalits is by far the smallest for Muslims,” a report commissioned by the National Commission for Minorities noted in 2008.

One of the authors of the Uttar Pradesh survey, Prashant K Trivedi, told the BBC that “a belief that caste is a Hindu phenomenon since the caste system derives legitimacy from Hindu religious texts, has dominated the thinking of governments and academia since the colonial period.” He believes that Dalit Muslims – and Dalit Christians as well – should be classified as ‘scheduled castes’ and be entitled to affirmative action benefits just like Dalit Hindus.

Even if this should happen, caste discrimination is likely to remain one of the most serious human rights issues in India for many years to come, because laws against it may look good on paper, but are not implemented. Obviously, converting to other religions than Hinduism will not solve the problem either. As a BBC Correspondent concluded in a recent piece:
“You can try to leave caste in India, but caste refuses to leave you.”

Why are many Indian Muslims seen as untouchable?

Soutik Biswas Delhi correspondent
Untouchability is worse than slavery, said Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, one of India's greatest statesmen and the undisputed leader of the country's Dalits.Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) are some of the republic's most wretched citizens because of an unforgiving Hindu caste hierarchy that condemns them to the bottom of the heap.

Although untouchability among Hindus is widely documented and debated, its existence among India's Muslims is rarely discussed.

One reason possibly is that Islam does not recognise caste, and promotes equality and egalitarianism.

Most of India's 140 million Muslims are descended from local converts. Many of them converted to Islam to escape Hindu upper-caste oppression.

'Lived reality'Their descendants form the overwhelming majority - 75% - of the present Indian Muslim population, and they are called the Dalit Muslims, according to Ejaz Ali, leader of an organisation representing socially disadvantaged Muslims.

"But caste and untouchability is a lived reality for Muslims living in India and South Asia," Dr Aftab Alam, a political scientist who has worked on the subject, told me. "And untouchability is the community's worst-kept secret."

Studies have claimed that "concepts of purity and impurity; clean and unclean castes" do exist among Muslims groups.A book by Ali Anwar says while Dalits are called asprishya (untouchable) in Hindu society, they are called arzal (inferior) among the Muslims. A 2009 study by Dr Alam found there was not a single "Dalit Muslim" in any of the prominent Muslim organisations, which were dominated essentially by four "upper-caste" Muslim groups.

Now a major study - possibly the first its kind - by a group of researchers reveals that the scourge of untouchability is alive and well among Indian Muslims.

Prashant K Trivedi, Srinivas Goli, Fahimuddin and Surinder Kumar polled more than 7,000 households across 14 districts between October 2014 and April 2015 in the populous northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

'Food from different plates'Some of their findings include:

A substantial proportion of the "Dalit Muslims" report that they do not receive an invitation from non-Dalits for wedding feasts, possibly because of a history of social segregation.

A section of "Dalit Muslims" testify that they are seated separately in non-Dalit Muslim feasts. Almost a similar proportion of respondents confirm that they eat after the upper-caste people have finished. Many say they are served food on different plates.

Around 8% of "Dalit Muslim" respondents report that their children are seated in separate rows in classes and also during school lunches.

At least a third of them state that they are not allowed to bury their dead in an "upper-caste" burial ground. They do so either in some other place or in one corner of the main ground.

Most of the Muslims offer prayers in the same mosque, but in some places "Dalit Muslims" felt discriminated against in the main mosque.

A significant section of "Dalit Muslims" also feel that their community is seen as being associated with menial jobs.

When "Dalit Muslim" respondents were requested to share their experiences inside homes of upper-caste Hindus and Muslims, around 13% of them reported having received food/water in different utensils in "upper-caste" Muslim houses. This proportion is close to 46% in the case of upper-caste Hindu homes.

Similarly, around a fifth of respondents felt that upper-caste Muslims maintained a distance from them, and a quarter of "Dalit Muslims" went through similar experiences with upper-caste Hindus.Caste-related prejudices are found among all religious communities - including Sikhs - in India. Parsis are possibly an exception.

"But a belief that caste is a Hindu phenomenon since caste system derives legitimacy from Hindu religious texts, has dominated thinking of governments and academia since the colonial period," says Prashant K Trivedi.

So he and his co-researchers believe that "Dalit Muslims" - and Christians - deserve affirmative action benefits like their Hindu outcaste counterparts.

The moral of the story: you can try to leave caste in India, but caste refuses to leave you.