Activists Want Telangana Govt-Funded Annual Iftar to be Cancelled
According to the activists, there is no Government Order (GO) on the official website about the event.
Activists in Hyderabad are up in arms against the Telangana government’s annual Iftar party to be held in the city on 8 June, stating that it is a ‘misuse of public funds’.
Last year, activists had moved the Hyderabad High Court after it was learnt that funds of the Minority Welfare Department, meant for poor minorities, was being used to throw a lavish party for the elite.
Dr Lubna Sarwath, General Secretary of the Telangana unit of the Socialist Party (India), said that the Telangana Legislative Assembly passed a budget of Rs 60 crore for 'Dawat-e-Iftar and Christmas Feast' for 2018-19, dubbing it as 'Minority Welfare'.
She also alleged that there was no Government Order (GO) on the official website about the event.
Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Deputy Chief Minister Mahmood Ali said that 7,000 guests were expected to turn up at Fateh Maidan, where the event will be held, out of which 1,000 will be accommodated in the VIP lounge.
Besides serving a large amount of food to those who gather, the Deputy CM also said that clothes will be distributed to 12 lakh people across the state as 400 masjids under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and 400 masjids in the districts will host a dinner on the same day.
Mahmood said that the Telangana government had sanctioned Rs 15 crore for to make necessary arrangements.
In a press release, the activists in a statement said, “Iftar is a personal affair of a Muslim and the government is politicising it. If the government wants to show that it cares about minorities and communal harmony, then all ration card holders who are Below Poverty Line (BPL) can be given dry fruits through Public Distribution System (PDS).”
“It is a shame that such a squander of funds and insensitivity to 'minority welfare' is being sanctioned through the Budget being passed by law makers of all political parties without any question on the need of Rs 60 crore being allocated for a feast,” the activists added.
The Minorities Commission has been turned into a dummy with no say on either the allocation or usage of funds as mandated by the Minorities Commission Act, activists alleged.
“On the other hand, the government's responsibility is to strengthen the minorities through education, health, hygiene, employment and entrepreneurship, which increases the dignity of the individual as mandated in the Directive Principles of the Constitution of India,” the activists said.
Demanding that the Telangana government call off the dinner, the activists have decided to approach the High Court on 8 June.
Last year too, Lubna had questioned the state's decision to hold the Iftar party, and had termed it 'unconstitutional'.
Following this, the HC had pulled up the Telangana government.
In a HC order dated 16 June 2017, the state had given an undertaking to the court that the dinner was not being hosted using the funds of the Minority Welfare Department and it would ensure that Iftar and clothes at the masjids was being given to 'poorest of poor'.
It also asked for a list to be compiled with names and how it was ensured that only the destitute, widows, the elderly, orphans, and poor received the funds. This list would be submitted to the High Court within three weeks.
However, Lubna alleges, “The state is yet to make that list public and a subsequent RTI that was filed had uncovered that the iftar dinner at Fateh Maidan was indeed from funds meant for minority welfare.”
(This article has been published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)
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