Mamata to give `protection` to imams and muezzins

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said that her government would extend all necessary `protection` to the imams and muezzins in the state as per law.

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said that her government would extend all necessary `protection` to the imams and muezzins in the state as per law.
On September 2, the Calcutta High Court ruled that allowances for the imams and muezzins announced by the state government were unconstitutional.

The chief minister, however, declined to make any comment on the Calcutta High Court order, saying, "Law will take its own course."

"We believe in a democratic process and everything will be done as per law for the protection of minorities as well as imams and muezzins for their development, Banerjee said giving away scholarships and loans to the minorities at a function organised by the West Bengal Minorities` Development and Financial Corporation.

"Don`t be worried. Nothing is there to be upset. We are with you always. We have in our hand the Wakf Board, Minorities Commission and Madrasa Service Commission which will help us fulfil the demands and aspirations of the imams and muezzins and other minorities," she said amidst cheers from the audience.

A Calcutta High Court division bench of Justice P K Chattopadhyay and Justice M P Shrivastava passing an order on a writ petition filed against the government`s announcement of allowances for the imams and muezzins ruled them unconstitutional and against public interest.

State`s urban development minister Firhad Hakim had earlier assured the imams and muezzins that as long as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her government was there, interest of the poor minorities would remain protected.

"Nothing to be worried for the poor minorities including the Imams and Muezzins. Chief Minister is taking all measures for their economic and social uplift," Hakim had said.

Briefing on various schemes initiated by her
government for the development of minorities, Banerjee said that the state`s budgetary allocation had made a quantum jump at present compared to what it was during the Left Front rule in 2010-11.

Banerjee said that the budgetary allocation by the LF government in 2010-11 was Rs 121 crore, which rose to Rs 330 crore during the year 2011-12 during her government.

The state`s budgetary allocation further increased to Rs 570 crore in 2012-13, followed by Rs 859 crore in the current year.

Similarly, loans, scholarships and other benefits to the minority beneficiaries have also increased substantially during last two years leaving far behind the statistics of LF regime, she said.

Reservation for the minorities had also been increased to 17 per cent with an additional financial allocation of Rs 1,000 crore, Banerjee said.

Urdu has been made the second official language in ten majority Urdu speaking areas, the chief minister said.

Stating that all the schemes already announced by her government would continue, Banerjee said that she would visit ten districts before the coming Durgapuja festival and in the remaining districts after Durga Puja to review their progress.

Altogether Rs 93.15 crore were distributed towards loans, scholarships and other benefits offered by the WBMDFC among nearly three lakh minority beneficiaries during the day.