Sunday, October 5, 2008

Malegaon’s metamorphosis

The Powerloom Town Is Churning Out Doctors, Engineers And Scientists Like Never Before

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

* IAS officer Mohammad Qaisar, who has grown up in Malegaon, is now an assistant collector in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur.
* Zubaida Ansari, a scientist who calls Malegaon her home, has worked in Japan and South Korea and is currently delivering lectures in Jamia Millia Islamia.

* Malegaon has churned out doctors, engineers, journalists, IT and software professionals in the hundreds this decade. Less than a dozen students used to get a berth in engineering or medical colleges every year between 1991 and 1997.

Qaisar, Ansari and hundreds of faceless — but education-empowered — youth are now in the vanguard of a social revolution that is forcing the outside world to look at “communally sensitive’’ Malegaon a little differently. They are now in diverse industries like tourism, aviation, bank
ing, pharma and, of course, in the public sector, trying to convince Malegaon that change is possible and happening right now.

“Around a hundred students go for different medical courses and an equal number head for engineering colleges every year now. There is an awareness in the community and we are getting positive results,’’ Abdul Lateef Ansari, director of an MH-CET coaching institiute and Saahil Career Guidance Centre in Malegaon, said.

Everyone in Malegaon agrees that education has been the magic wand that is help transforming the textile town and its profile. The 12.95-squarekm town has 156 Urdu-medium primary schools, high schools and junior colleges that take care of 86,000 students every year; and the Marathimedium institutions are responsible for lighting the world of 35,000 students annually. Malegaon also has the world’s largest Islamic institution for women, the Jamiat-us-Swalehat.

But the town, located 300 km from Mumbai, has been in the news mostly for the wrong reasons. The majority-minority role is reversed here, with about three-fourths of the 7.5-lakh township being Muslim (most of them are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar). The first riot occurred in 1963 — between two processions (one for Ganpati Visarjan and the other for Moharram) — and, since then, it has been a cyclical occurrence: a second in the early 1980s, a third in 1992 and then the worst of all the riots in October 2001, when the army had to be
called in to restore peace.

“But the township is neither ‘sensitive’ nor are the people here ‘communal’. We cannot afford to as both the communities are stakeholders in the powerloom industry,’’ commerce graduate and powerloom unit owner Ishtiyaq Ahmed said. “What the media calls riots are often a violent expression of people’s anger against the police force,’’ he added.

Over two dozen policemen and home guards were beaten up by an angry mob after the blast on September 29. Residents said police had
ignored their tip-off about the bike in which the bomb was planted. This anger, after the four deaths, then singed the men in khaki.

The violence in October 2001 turned much worse after a policeman, who could not read Urdu, snatched a pamphlet from someone; the paper was merely asking for a boycott of USmanufactured goods. An attack on policemen followed and it ended with police firing on a violent mob that led to the death of 12 persons, including a 50-year-old woman; the communal riot came after all this.

Officials admit that a shortage of Muslims in the force has often been a reason for the poor law-and-order situatoin in the town. “We have conducted a training session for recruitment in the police force especially for Muslims and trained around 100 girls and boys. They will now be appearing in the exam,’’ additional superintendent of police Sanjay Patil said.

Ragpicker held for stealing constable’s pistol
Malegaon: The Malegaon police on Saturday claimed to have recovered constable Deepak Borse’s stolen service pistol and 10 bullets from one Rehman Chaus, a 24-year-old ragpicker. “We arrested him on Saturday,’’ said IG (Nashik range) Surya Prakash Gupta.

IPS probationer, Viresh Prabhu, who was injured in a police-public clash after the bomb blast, was shifted to Bombay Hospital on Saturday morning. He condition was said to be stable.

The Times of India, October 5, 2008

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