Senior Congress leader and former minister Mohammad Ali Shabbir has strongly condemned the TRS government's decision of converting regular employees of the Mecca Masjid and the Royal Mosque into "outsourcing" contract staff, and has demanded that the orders be withdrawn immediately.
Outlining his demand in an open letter to Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, written on April 4, he asserted, "The Minorities Welfare Department has issued a circular converting the regular tenures of as many as 30 employees of two historic mosques - Mecca Masjid and Royal Mosque - into outsourcing or contract ones with effect from March 31, 2021. The circular has created unrest among the affected employees and their families, and also the Muslim community in general. The decision should be withdrawn immediately."
The former minister alleged that the state government was treating the mosques' employees in an "utterly unjust" manner and was insulting the years of "selfless service" of the employees who had devoted "years to the upkeep and maintenance" of the two historic mosques.
"It is atrocious to link the mosque workers' services with a private agency so as to deprive them of good salaries and other benefits. I wonder why this is being done right after the government announced a fitment of 30%
to government employees and even extended their retirement age to 61 years. The circular clearly demonstrates the apathetic attitude of the TRS government towards the employees of the Mecca Masjid and Royal Mosque. It shows that they are being treated as little more than burdens on the state's exchequer. This is condemnable, especially as the KCR government repeatedly claims that it treats all religions and sites of worship equally. To prove that its money is where its mouth is, it must withdraw the unjust decision. That will prove its commitment to secularism instead of its many performative speeches," he stated.
"The decision is clearly to target mosque workers specifically. The same government has, after all, drafted clear service rules for the employees of all the major temples in the state. The temple employees get good salaries and enjoy a host of other benefits which are at par with government employees. The discriminatory attitude of the TRS regime has come to the fore repeatedly with its failure to take any similar steps for mosque employees. Now, it has gone a step further and is making regular service employees into contract workers. Their Housing Rent Allowances and other benefits have also been stopped," Shabbir Ali fumed.
He then pointed out that the Khateeb, Imam, and Muezzin were highly respectable positions and it would be an insult to them and the entire Muslim community in Telangana if the government made the posts contractual ones, and added, "The employees of both the mosques can retire at the age of 65 years. They also get 15 days of leave and Rs 3 lakh at the time of retirement. Once they are 'outsourced', they will be deprived of all these benefits. This is greatly insulting to them and to all Muslims in Telangana."
The Congress leader demanded that all the employees of the Mecca Masjid and the Royal Mosque be given permanent tenures, salary hikes, and other benefits. He also requested the CM to take measures to recruit additional staff claiming that the mosques' workforce had remained unchanged since 1976.