Wednesday, May 29, 2024

“We seek a govt that does not discriminate based on religion,” say voters of Nagaon in Assam

The Nagaon Lok Sabha constituency, which encompasses the entire Marigaon district and part of Nagaon district in Assam, is set to go to the polls this Friday. Currently, the constituency comprises nine Legislative Assembly segments: Jagiroad (CS), Morigaon, Laharighat, Raha (SC), Nowgaon, Barhampur, Jamunamukh, Hojai, and Lumding.

The population is divided based on caste percentages: Buddhists 0.03%, Christians 0.67%, Jains 0.04%, Muslims 54.43%, Scheduled Castes 10.37%, Scheduled Tribes 7.51%, and Sikhs 0.08%.

Currently, the AIUDF had one MLA, the BJP had six, and the INC had two MLAs from Nagaon Parliament Constituency. Pradyut Bordoloi from the Congress was elected in 2019 from this constituency, defeating BJP’s Razen Gohain.

“Since the Nellie-Barbari massacre, no political party has resolved our problems. I was in Delhi with some Muslim leaders to protest our treatment, but we received only promises. We have no hope for justice. This time, we will vote to address some local issues in our village,” said a senior citizen Abdul Karim, who lost ten family members in the Nellie-Barbari massacre of 1983, while speaking to Maktoob.

Nagaon is a Muslim voter-dominant Lok Sabha Constituency. The minority Muslims in the state face various issues requiring political solutions, traditionally voting mostly for the Congress party, then for the AIUDF. “A section of our community is religiously motivated to vote for the AIUDF, but most prefer to stay with the Congress for social security,” stated advocate Azad Uddin Siddiki of Marigaon.

“We seek a government that does not discriminate based on religion. In a democracy, every citizen should have equal rights and justice. We aim to elect a candidate who will ensure all these,” Moinul Hoque, a relative of the Morigaon Ahotguri lynching survivors, told Maktoob, “We face many issues, but the recent lynching case was particularly unfortunate and heartbreaking.”

On 25 July 2023, a group of young boys—Saddam Hussain, Mirajul Hoque, Anarul Hoque, Bilal Hussain, Samsul Hoque, and Abul Hussain—were returning home on bikes after watching a local kabaddi league final and were accused of stealing cows. They were lynched by a Hindu mob in Ahotguri, resulting in the death of Saddam Hussain, although the others survived.

“Since independence, no Miya representative has been sent to parliament. This time, Muslim voters want to elect an AIUDF candidate,” Mufti Abdul Karim, a supporter of the AIUDF, expressed hope while discussing the minority Muslim support for AIUDF.

The AIUDF has nominated Aminul Islam, with AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal declaring that the Bengali-speaking Muslims in the constituency will have their own candidate for the first time. It is noteworthy that the AIUDF supported the Congress in the 2019 election, helping it win this seat after nearly 25 years. Congress parliamentarian Pradyut Bordoloi is seeking re-election.

Speaking to Maktoob, Congress supporter Azhar Uddin said, “Muslim people have realized over time that AIUDF is a direct supporter of the BJP, which conducts politics in the name of religion. Congress will form the government at the center, and Muslim people are going to re-elect the Congress candidate.”

The Nagaon constituency has a total of 1,804,472 voters, comprising 895,612 females and 908,860 males. Muslim voters number about 1.2 million, and all parties are targeting this demographic to win the Nagaon Lok Sabha Constituency seat.

Mirza Lutfar Rahman is a freelance journalist based in Assam.

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