It is not just the rest of the country which is divided on the issue of a separate Telangana state. The Justice B N Srikrishna Committee found that while the Muslims in Hyderabad, represented by the powerful All India Majlis e Ittahadel Muslimeen (AIMIM), favoured a united Andhra Pradesh, their community members in other parts of Telangana supported the demand for a separate state.
While Muslims form 41 per cent of the population in Hyderabad, they account for just 8.4 per cent of the population in the rest of Telangana. However, Muslims in both the regions are unsure about their security in a separate state.
“Muslims in Telangana are looking at higher reservation quotas which are being promised. On the other hand, they worry about communal conflict in a smaller state. The uncertainties over new political configurations have a bearing on the psychology of the Muslims, especially in the context of their safety and security,” observes the Srikrishna report.
The AIMIM, led by Hyderabad MP Assaduddin Owaisi, told the Srikrishna Committee that a united Andhra Pradesh was in the overall interest of Muslims. His main contention was that Muslims would be safer in a united Andhra than in a separate Telangana. “We would rather prefer a united state than a separate Telangana. There are social, economical and security issues. If division is inevitable, then a Greater Telangana should be created which combines Telangana and Rayalaseema,” he says.
But Muslim groups in Telangana feel that they are neglected and have remained backward, but are likely to get more benefits in a separate state. “Muslims have been neglected by all the parties including the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). The Muslim Minority Front will fight for a separate state as well as for the rights of the Muslim community after the statehood is achieved,” says Telangana Muslims Minority Front’s Shahbaz Ali Khan.
The reasons for the conflicting stands are many, including cultural and social differences. Urdu-speaking Hyderabadi Muslims have maintained the Nawabi culture and traditions. On the other hand, Telangana’s Muslims speak a mixed dialect of Telugu, Urdu and Hindi, and even Marathi in the border areas of Nizamabad and Adilabad.
“Hyderabadi Muslims identify primarily with the city and not necessarily with the region of Telangana. Most of them reside in the old city and do not speak Telugu. Residents of Muslim mohallas were found to be the most disengaged from the Telangana issue,” says the Srikrishna report.