A panel constituted by the Assam government recently recommended that a notification be passed to recognize Assamese Muslims as an Indigenous Assamese-speaking community of the state and issue identity cards to them.
The recommendations have again raised questions about the objective of the exercise and whether it will benefit the community or create a further divide in the region, which has witnessed various waves of migration over the years.
Consequent to the formation of sub-committees for the overall development of the indigenous Assamese Muslim community here, the seven sub-committees submitted their reports containing their recommendations to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at a program held at Janata Bhawan in Guwahati on April 21.
“The five sub-groups of Assamese Muslims – Syed, Goriya, Moria, Deshi and Julha – should be clearly mentioned and recognized in the government notification. A provision similar to the Article 333 of the Indian Constitution may be enacted to provide a representation of Assamese Muslims in Parliament and Assam Legislative Assembly, an Upper House (Legislative Council) may be created in Assam as per Article 169 of the Indian Constitution and once the Legislative Council is formed, a specific number of seats may be reserved for the Assamese Muslim community in this council,” the Sub-Committees set up by the state government recommended.
The panel also recommended that a separate authority be set up for Assamese Muslims so that the directorate could provide the necessary documentation to the people of this community to reflect their distinct identity and it may be in the form of an identity card or a certificate.
“Based on the recommendations, my government would formulate short term, medium-term and long term plan for implementing the recommendations for achieving socio-economic and academic empowerment of the indigenous Assamese Muslim community in Assam,” said Sarma.
Mominul Awal – Chief convener of Janagosthiya Samannay Parishad which is the umbrella body of 21 indigenous Muslim organizations told ANI that they are welcoming the decision taken by the Assam government.
“It’s our demand that a separate census for Goriya, Moria, Deshi community people should be conducted and the government should give identity cards to them because the Bangladesh origin Muslims population is about one crore in the state and the Indigenous Muslims are facing an identity crisis – politically, economically, culturally. The government had formed Sub-Committees and the panels had already submitted their reports, and recommendations to the Chief Minister,” Awal said.
He further said the government should give constitutional safeguards to the Indigenous Muslims in Assam.
The panels also recommended the state government that “women to be free to discard social subjugation in a matter of choice of individual dress up especially in public spaces there must not be coercion to wear niqaab, burqa, and hijab.” (ANI)