Dispur to shield the identity of indigenous Muslims, carry out Census

GUWAHATI: Aimed at safeguarding the identity and rights of various Indigenous Muslim communities in Assam, the State government has decided to carry out a Census covering the population as well as the socio-economic status of these communities. The BJP-led coalition government has taken this step according to its last Budget declaration.

In this regard, a meeting was held under the presidentship of State Minority Development Minister Ranjeet Dutta at the Janata Bhawan here on Tuesday. Representatives of various indigenous Muslims including the Gorias, Morias, Deshis, Ujanis, Maimals, Jalahas, and Sayeds were present on the occasion.

The meeting discussed the identity crisis being faced by the indigenous Muslims of the State from the immigrant Muslims.

According to official data, there are approximately 1 crore 30 lakh Muslim inhabitants in Assam. Of them, approximately 40 lakh are indigenous Muslims. As a result, the lion’s share of the various schemes meant for the minority communities are now being enjoyed by the immigrant Muslims, alleged some representatives of the indigenous Muslims in the meeting. A few others also pointed out that the immigrant Muslim population in Assam have strong political bases.

Strongly opposing the nomenclature of the proposed ‘Indigenous Muslims Development Council’, the representatives demanded that the Council should be instead rechristened in the names of the various indigenous Muslim communities like the Gorias, Morias, Deshis, Ujanis, Maimals, Jalahas, and Sayeds. They also urged the Government to take these communities into confidence while undertaking the proposed Census primarily because they know where the immigrant Muslims resides across the State. They further apprehended that otherwise many immigrant Muslims may be included in the Census.

Minister Dutta assured the representatives that he would discuss the issue of “nomenclature change” of the proposed Council with the Chief Minister. He also pointed out that the prime objective of the Census is to keep intact the identity of all indigenous Muslim communities of Assam, who are a vital part of the greater Assamese society. Dutta also agreed with the representatives that owing to the immigrant Muslims, the indigenous Muslims have been deprived of their rights in various sectors. “All our efforts on this issue are targeted to ensure welfare of the indigenous Muslims. There is no politics involved; and I appeal to all not to politicize this issue.”

The Minister added, “The State Budget has already earmarked Rs 100 crore for the proposed Development Council. Once the Census is undertaken, we’ll be able to carry forward the work. However, since this is a very sensitive issue, we don’t want to do anything in a hurried manner. We’ll have more discussions with all the stakeholders involved, and then only move ahead.” Besides the representatives of indigenous Muslims, among those present in the meeting included several eminent persons like Dr Illias Ali, Nekibur Zaman, Chairman of Assam Minority Development Board Sayed Mominul Aowal and BJP MLA Dr Numal Momin.

(source: The Sentinel)

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