Reservation of Pangal Community
The Manipuri Muslims (locally known as Pangan/ls), had settled at different locations of the state like Kangla, Kairang, Yaiskul and Singjamei (early settlement places), and have been settling at various other locations like Hatta, Golapati, Lilong, Kshetrigao, Irong Chesaba, Thoubal Moijing, Keibung, Sangaiyumpham, Yairipok, Phoudel, Hiyangthang, Mayang Imphal, Kwakta, and Pora, etc., since the seventeenth century. There were though claims of their settlement before the seventeenth century too. Compared to other communities like Meiteis and Tribes like the Kukis and the Nagas, the Manipuri Muslims are in an extremely deplorable condition educationally, socially, economically and politically. In this context, reservation for this community is imperative for its progress. Furthermore, among the Muslim settlement areas, Sangaiyumpham area of Thoubal District is one of the most underdeveloped areas with regard to education. Till date, there is no quality educational institution in this area. This article will explore the educational status of this area after the four percent reservation system was implemented for the Muslim community in Manipur. The impacts of reservation will be analyzed through a critical investigation. Some of the pertinent questions to be asked are: What is the educational condition of this area? Why is this area so backward while considering its educational status? Is there a lack of educational awareness among the Muslims of Sangaiyumpham area? Was there any obstacle created by the socio-religious factors against upliftment of the society particularly in the educational sector? Are the schemes provided by the government inaccessible or unavailable in this area? The objective of this article is to explore the above questions.
Before delving into the probable educational status of Sangaiyumpham area, it is important to note that the demand of reservation by Indian Muslims had been a long-standing issue. It could be said that the community had started its demand since the foundation of Indian Constitution in the sectors of education and government jobs as well as in legislative bodies from Parliament to Panchayats, similar to the pattern of reservation provided to the SCs/STs. This is because the community feels that it is not only socially, politically, educationally and economically at par with the Dalits, but has also been left helpless after the partition of the country. The state’s role in the educational sector of Manipuri Muslim community is less than other communities like Meitei and Tribes based on the data obtained from All India Higher Education Survey 2017-18. The government needs to pay serious attention considering the community’s deplorable educational status. Only a few persons belonging to the Manipuri Muslim community are class I officers, class II officers and class III officers. The probable reason of this is the long period of negligence of government agencies and the lack of mass leadership among the Muslims in Manipur. It is significant to note that their educational status is still underdeveloped in comparison to other communities, though Muslims are the third largest minority community in Manipur.
The state has taken some affirmative action as a part of an inclusive policy which is reflected in the 4% reservation-cum-quota system in jobs and employment implemented on 27th December, 2006 during the chief ministership of Okram Ibobi Singh, who announced that 4% reservation should be given to Muslims in appointment of government jobs/services and admission to professional institutes for OBCs. It is stated that “announcing this, Singh said “though the community comprised seven percent of the total population of the state, but it represented only 2.57 percent in the government’s grade I and II jobs.” It is to be noted that “the twenty-nine officially recognised tribal groups have 20 seats exclusively reserved for them in the 60 member Manipur state assembly and up to 31% reservation in all government jobs. But, by contrast, Muslims have been forced to recoil in their own ghettos without any help from the government.” In this context, Sajjad Hassan claims that “states like Manipur and Andhra Pradesh have recently taken affirmative action legislations specifically for Muslims, through creating sub-quotas for Muslim OBCs within the OBC quota for reservations in jobs and educational institutions, arguing that the entire OBC Muslim section was socially and educationally backward, and hence eligible for affirmative action under Art 15(4) of the Constitution. This provides a political settlement enabling access for Muslims to entitlements and state legitimacy in the future. He further said that these states have aft of Sachar Committee Report.”
Though such half-hearted policies could bring some substantial change in the educational and employment status of the whole Muslim community, the Muslims in Manipur are still in the initial stage of development in educational and employment sectors and are lagging behind the other religious communities in Manipur in these sectors. For example, for the last four hundred years since the seventeenth century, Muslims have been living in Manipur peacefully with the local community with the exception of a cataclysmic event on 3rd May 1993. Till now only a handful of Pangal youths have qualified UPSC with a gap of almost five years namely Noor Rahman Sheikh IFS (2003), Altab Hussain IRS (2007), Yumkhaibam Sabir IFS (2012) and others. After the reservation policy has become effective, even in the state PCS Examination, only a handful of persons namely A. R. Khan, Jakir, Sheikh Abdul Hakim, Farook Khutheibam, and some others have qualified till date. In teaching faculty jobs, there is only one Assistant Professor in Manipur University, namely Md. Hamidur Rahman at the Biotechnology Department. The number of male and female Muslim researchers in Manipur University and other Universities outside the state like University of Delhi, Aligarh Muslim University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, etc., is comparatively low. Hence, the government needs to pay serious attention for the improvement, development and stability of this community along with other communities for making the state a balanced developmental state in future perspective.
Sangaiyumpham’s Educational Status
There is a general perception, which is slightly true to a certain extent, that Sangaiyumpham area is the most developed area among the Muslim settled areas in Manipur in terms of good means of communication. But it is one of the most under-developed areas among the Muslim settled areas in the field of education. This area has a population of around 11301 Muslims. Only a few of them get into higher education. Maximum members of the Muslim population staying in this area are illiterate. They need the government related schemes, particularly in primary, secondary and higher education, for their sustainable upliftement. Out of this 11301 Muslims, number of class I, class II, class III and class IV officers can be counted easily. Till date, there are around six class I officers in the entire area. They are: Dr. Raheijuddin Sheikh, Associate Professor at DM Deemed University, Imphal; Gayajuddin, MCS Officer; Imder Rahman, Assistant Professor at Liberal College; Nizamuddin, Assistant Professor at Modern College, Islamuddin, Associate Professor at Lilong College and Salaoddin, Project Officer in MOBC, Manipur. Besides, maximum of the youths joined the defence forces particularly D grade jobs in the Airforce, Army, Navy, Manipur Rifles, etc.
In the field of medical courses, only a handful of people get admission from this area either through government quota because of the 4 percent reservation of the Pangal community or through private quota. Some of them got jobs after completing their MBBS course namely; Md. Shahid Khan, who did his MBBS course from NEIGRIMS, Shillong is now a medical officer, MO and Md. Riyas Khan who have completed his MBBS course from JNIMS, Porompat and is now an MO. Some pursuing MBBS candidates who got selected through government’s selection process are Makina Nasrin at JNIMS, Porompat; Md. Fazal at NEIGRIMS, Shillong; Sohail and Barak Hussain at RIMS, Lamphel, etc. Some persons from this area are also doing pursuing MBBS course at private institutions namely Md. Abash Khan, Shahjahan, etc. Bannerjee Rahman has completed her MBBS course and is now working in Manipur.
In the field of teaching, around four primary teachers are there among the Muslims of Sangaiyumpham area. There is not even a single Muslim female teacher in the whole Sangaiyumpham area. There is only one government lecturer in the entire Sangaiyumpham area, namely Md. Tamijur Rahman, M.Sc Physics, B.Ed from Sangaiyumpham Mairenkhul at the Sangaiyumpham Higher Secondary School. It has around 500 (both male and female) students. Furthermore, there are seven private schools. The Muslims here have started sending their children to private schools also. Their basic educational status is quite low as compared to other Muslim settled areas of Manipur like, Lilong, Hatta, Golapati, Kshetrigao, Yairipok, Thoubal Moijing, etc. In addition, there is only one boys’ and girls’ Madrasa in this 9000 populated area where general courses till class five are being taught. Madrasas need to be modernized on a large scale by adding substantial vocational and professional courses which will add some significant momentum to the spirit of political and social interventions among the Muslims of this area.
There are around thirty women and around forty men who have completed graduation and there are around eighteen men and four women who have completed their post-graduation so far among the Muslims of Sangaiyumpham area. Specifically, the four women namely Phundreimayum Shajida Shahani from the Department of Biochemistry, Manipur University and Rabeena doing Ph.D in NEHU, Shillong, Taj Begum in English Department, MU and Sila Begum M.Sc. Botany from MU have completed post-graduation so far. This is a glaring fact that while there are only around 20 postgraduates among the Muslims of Sangaiyumpham area, the share of women in this number is only 10%. The other three women namely Sarina, Akina in Anthropology and Ruksana in Botany from Manipur University are still pursuing their post-graduation. As far as the number of researchers from this area is concerned, there is only one woman namely Rabeena who is pursuing Ph.D at the Department of Statistics, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, Meghalaya. Likewise, among the males also, there is only one male namely Muhammad Asif doing Ph.D at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Technocrat’s Institute of Technology and Science affiliated to Rajiv Gandhi Technical University, Bhopal.
Reasons for the Backwardness in Higher Education
There are many possible reasons for the backwardness and lack of participation of Muslims from this area in the field of higher education. First, almost all families staying in this area are doing agricultural related activities. So, their maximum incomes are generated from and limited to the paddy cultivation. They could not put substantial effort on their children’s movement towards higher education. Second, there is lack of awareness-cum-professional programmes related to higher education in this area. The parents are more or less focused on D grade jobs for the survival of their children. It is necessary to conduct regular awareness programmes in this area to help the people understand the significance of and opportunities in the higher education sector. Third, the parents of this area are more or less feudalistic in nature in the sense that there is a male dominated society. They do not pay serious attention to girl’s education. They treat girl’s education lightly as a less important matter. ‘What is the use of giving higher education to girls’ is the one thought that seems to be a major reason for the backwardness of girl’s education in this area. Fourth, there still exists a tradition of early marriage in this area that becomes an obstacle to girls seeking higher education. Fifth, there is lack of socially and morally sound environment for seeking higher education as most of the young girls and boys don’t focus on higher education. Sixth, the educational backwardness of Muslims, particularly the Muslim women of this area, is far worse than Muslims in other areas of Manipur. Giving basic education to Muslim women is the need of the hour. Patriarchal mindset should be put aside at any cost for the improvement of the society. Apart from this, the Government of Manipur should be more proactive in giving financial aid and incentives including the reservation policy for the educational upliftment of marginalized communities with special focus to Muslims of Manipur particularly the Muslims of Sangiyumpham area. The situation also requires dedicated Muslim leaders who will work for the development of the society.
 Salam Irene, The Muslims of Manipur, Kalpaz Publication, Delhi, 2010, pp. 34, 35 and 40-43.
 Md. Chingiz Khan, Md. Abdul Kadir, and Mohd. Sarwar Rahman, ‘Status of Education among the Muslims of Manipur: Prospects and Challenges’, The Journal of Social Science Scholar by Dasson Research Foundation, Vol. II, Number IV, October 2015, pp. 96-109.
 Office Memorandum, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (Personal Divisions), Government of Manipur.
 Sajjad Hassan, ‘Muslim exclusion in India: A review of the literature’, published by the Centre for Equity Studies, New Delhi, pp. 1-34.
 https://www.forwardpress.in/2019/05/the-identity-crisis-of-manipuri-muslims/; Khan, et.al., op.cit., pp. 96-109.
 All the above mentioned information with respect to the educational status of Sangaiyumpham area of Thoubal District is gathered by taking interview of different persons staying in the area. It is mainly a field based study.