In the backdrop of the Congress-NCP government's decision to provide 5% quota for Muslims, community members say the state needs to do much more to improve their lives and be willing to bite the bullet on issues like gender-sensitive, regressive laws and banning the triple talaq, to ensure their welfare.
Muslim organisations have also pointed to lapses in the inclusion of communities in the quota, which will be detrimental to lower-caste Muslims since they will have to compete with affluent upper-caste Muslims.
"Regressive laws which hurt women and grant more rights to men must be scrapped," said Syed Bhai of the Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal, who has worked towards eradicating many social evils.
He demanded that customs like the oral triple talaq, which allow men to have up to four wives and the 'nikah halala', which forces a divorced woman to marry another man who must divorce her before she can remarry her original husband, be scrapped.
The activist pointed out that 5 to 10 per cent of Hindu and Muslim laws existed today because of gradual legal reforms – such as the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code – introduced by the British.
He said Muslim men had not opposed the simplification of criminal law as it would benefit them, but were against civil law reforms as it would help women.
"Reservation is a poll gimmick. The timing of the announcement is also suspect, but we welcome the move (considering) the marginalisation of Muslims," said Noorjehan Safia Niaz of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan.
She said the marginalisation was too deep-rooted to be tackled by reservations alone. "The entire area of Muslim women's empowerment has been completely neglected," asking that if the government would implement the Mehmood-ur-Rehman committee recommendations that seek a ban on oral divorce.