Sunday, December 3, 2023

Splitting up Muslims? Assam Govt’s move to Identify “Indigenous Muslims” raises eyebrows

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Photo: Shaheen Abdulla

In a continuum to the ongoing NRC-CAA drive, Assam Government’s panel has recommended to identify the indigenous Muslims and not mix them with the Muslims from Bengali belt region.

A notification has been sent for identifying the “Assame Muslims” as a distinct and indegenious community. Largely into five major categories, Deshi, Syed, Goria, Moria and Julha.

The panel also directed to issue a certificate or ID card to those who would be identified as “Assamese Muslims”. On 21 April, these recommendations in the form of a report were submitted to the CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.

On one hand, the panel justifies its recommendation stating that it would help the Assam Muslims to have fair representation in the state assembly and parliament. However, the politics of isolating the Bengali speaking Muslims residing in the lower- south Assam as “illegal”, “Bangladeshis” are decades old.

For long the contradictions between Assamese Muslims and the Bengali Muslims are now legally safeguarded favoring the dominant “Assamese Muslims” , say the concerned citizens.

Another problematic point in the set of recommendations is that it discourages Muslim women from wearing burqa, hijab or niqab.

The Assam CM however said that these steps would only ensure ‘socio-economic’, ‘academic empowerment’ of the indegenious Assamese Muslim community.

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