Muslims who have Kunbi caste certificates should also be extended reservations in government jobs and education under the Other Backward Class quota in Maharashtra, Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange-Patil said on Sunday, reported the Hindustan Times.

“There are government records that show that the Muslims are also part of Kunbi castes,” the newspaper quoted Jarange-Patil as saying. “When these records prove that they are also farmers and belong to the Kunbi community, then Muslims should also be given reservation from the OBC quota.”

The Kunbis are a sub-caste within the Maratha community who are already classified as Other Backward Classes.

The activist said that Muslims should not face injustice and cited the example of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Pasha Patel, whose records, Jarange-Patil claimed, reveal that he is a Kunbi.

“If there are such records, then all Muslims should get reservations from the OBC quota,” Jarange-Patil demanded. “I will see how they don’t get their rights.”

Over the past year, Jarange-Patil has led an agitation, including holding of hunger strikes, to demand reservations for Marathas in government jobs and educational institutes.

Jarange-Patil ended his fourth fast on February 26, six days after the Maharashtra legislature passed a bill that provides for a 10% quota in education and government jobs for the Maratha community.

The quota will be in addition to the current 52% reservation in the state, which already includes a 10% quota for the economically weaker sections category.

However, the activist has insisted that the Marathas be given reservation only under the Other Backward Classes category because the separate reservation exceeded the constitutional ceiling of 50% and would be struck down by the judiciary.

In addition to Kunbi certificates for all Marathas, Jarange-Patil had demanded free education for the community from kindergarten to postgraduate levels.

Other Backward Class activist Laxman Hake responded to Jarange-Patil’s demand saying that the Muslim community does not have a social hierarchy, The Times of India reported.

During the campaign for recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections, BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had opposed extension of reservations to Muslims. At an election rally on April 23, Modi claimed that the Congress government in Karnataka had instituted reservations on the basis of religion – for Muslims – that violated the Constitution.

In 1962, the Congress government in Karnataka had included certain castes of Muslim communities in the Other Backward Classes list, not on the basis of religion, but on the basis of social and economic backwardness. It was the Janata Dal (Secular) – now a BJP ally – that had extended quotas to all Muslim communities in 1994.

Karnataka is just one of the 14 states and Union territories where Muslim communities are included in the quota list, based on social and economic backwardness. This includes Gujarat, where Modi was chief minister.

Also read: Maharashtra Lok Sabha 2024: Which political alliance will gain from the Maratha agitation?