Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Politics Minorities

Assam: Committee proposes selective census, IDs for Assamese Muslims

The proposal is controversial as it seeks to distinguish between Assamese speaking Muslims and Bengali speaking Muslims

Sabrangindia 28 Apr 2022

Assam Muslims

A Committee formed by the Assam government has made a proposal that a census be conducted to identify Assamese Muslims and ID cards be issued to them. The proposal is controversial as it seeks to distinguish between Assamese speaking Muslims and Bengali speaking Muslims.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had held a meeting titled Alaap Alochana – Empowering Religious Minorities with 150 intellectuals and respected members of the Assamese Muslim community in July last year. Here several matters related to Assam’s Muslim community were discussed including the “two-child” policy to control the growth of Muslim population, and how to distinguish between “indigenous” Muslims and those who allegedly entered the state illegally from Bangladesh. It was decided at this meeting to form eight sub-committees to come up with a roadmap for addressing a variety of challenges faced by the community.

It was one of these committees that submitted a report on April 21 to the Chief Minister, in which it proposed a definition for “indigenous” Muslims. NE Now quoted Sarma as saying, “The definition of indigenous or Assamese Muslim put forward is acceptable. Once we have accepted that we have a target group. The recommendation put forward by committees’ is can be done. Some may require legislative and executive measures besides financial support.” The same Committee also recommended that a census be conducted to “identify and document” such indigenous Muslims and they then be issued ID Cards or certificates.

According to the NE Now report, there are three main groups of Assamese Muslims – the Goryas, the Moriyas and the Deshis. “While the Deshis are 13th-century converts from indigenous communities such as Koch Rajbongshi and Mech, the Goriyas and Moriyas trace their lineage to converts as well as soldiers, artisans, etc. who came to the region during the Ahom rule,” said the report, adding, “These groups consider themselves distinct from the Bengali-speaking Muslims who migrated from East Bengal.”

The Committee also recommended that along the lines of provisions in Article 333, Assamese Muslims be given greater representation in the Assam Legislative Assembly and Parliament, reported The Sentinel. In response to this a government release, quoted by multiple publications, said, “An Upper House (Legislative Council) may be created in Assam as per Article 169 of the Indian Constitution. Once the Legislative Council is formed, specific number of seats may be reserved for Assamese Muslim community in this Council.”

However, this appears to be a strategy aimed at pitting Muslims against each other along linguistic lines. While, one group could benefit under these provisions, it makes it that much easier to target the other group i.e Bengali speaking Muslims, who have all been summarily clubbed together as “illegal migrants” as part of the ruling regime’s divisive agenda.

Oddly enough, there have been no voices opposing this move, even from Opposition parties in Assam, perhaps indicating either their own deep-seated hatred of the alleged “outsider” or fear of retaliation from voters. Ethno-linguistic equations have always been complicated in Assam. The influx of Bengalis, both Hindu and Muslim, from Bangladesh has been viewed as a threat to the demography of the state. But the regime has over the years added a distinct communal hue to the conflict, with the Sarma himself openly declaring that he did not need votes from Miya Muslims (a term used to refer to Bengali-speaking Muslims) in the run up to State Assembly elections last year.

Related:

Ajmal’s culture is my enemy: Assam CM’s openly anti-Muslim statement

Don’t need Miya Muslim vote: Himanta Biswa Sarma

 

Assam: Committee proposes selective census, IDs for Assamese Muslims

The proposal is controversial as it seeks to distinguish between Assamese speaking Muslims and Bengali speaking Muslims

Assam Muslims

A Committee formed by the Assam government has made a proposal that a census be conducted to identify Assamese Muslims and ID cards be issued to them. The proposal is controversial as it seeks to distinguish between Assamese speaking Muslims and Bengali speaking Muslims.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had held a meeting titled Alaap Alochana – Empowering Religious Minorities with 150 intellectuals and respected members of the Assamese Muslim community in July last year. Here several matters related to Assam’s Muslim community were discussed including the “two-child” policy to control the growth of Muslim population, and how to distinguish between “indigenous” Muslims and those who allegedly entered the state illegally from Bangladesh. It was decided at this meeting to form eight sub-committees to come up with a roadmap for addressing a variety of challenges faced by the community.

It was one of these committees that submitted a report on April 21 to the Chief Minister, in which it proposed a definition for “indigenous” Muslims. NE Now quoted Sarma as saying, “The definition of indigenous or Assamese Muslim put forward is acceptable. Once we have accepted that we have a target group. The recommendation put forward by committees’ is can be done. Some may require legislative and executive measures besides financial support.” The same Committee also recommended that a census be conducted to “identify and document” such indigenous Muslims and they then be issued ID Cards or certificates.

According to the NE Now report, there are three main groups of Assamese Muslims – the Goryas, the Moriyas and the Deshis. “While the Deshis are 13th-century converts from indigenous communities such as Koch Rajbongshi and Mech, the Goriyas and Moriyas trace their lineage to converts as well as soldiers, artisans, etc. who came to the region during the Ahom rule,” said the report, adding, “These groups consider themselves distinct from the Bengali-speaking Muslims who migrated from East Bengal.”

The Committee also recommended that along the lines of provisions in Article 333, Assamese Muslims be given greater representation in the Assam Legislative Assembly and Parliament, reported The Sentinel. In response to this a government release, quoted by multiple publications, said, “An Upper House (Legislative Council) may be created in Assam as per Article 169 of the Indian Constitution. Once the Legislative Council is formed, specific number of seats may be reserved for Assamese Muslim community in this Council.”

However, this appears to be a strategy aimed at pitting Muslims against each other along linguistic lines. While, one group could benefit under these provisions, it makes it that much easier to target the other group i.e Bengali speaking Muslims, who have all been summarily clubbed together as “illegal migrants” as part of the ruling regime’s divisive agenda.

Oddly enough, there have been no voices opposing this move, even from Opposition parties in Assam, perhaps indicating either their own deep-seated hatred of the alleged “outsider” or fear of retaliation from voters. Ethno-linguistic equations have always been complicated in Assam. The influx of Bengalis, both Hindu and Muslim, from Bangladesh has been viewed as a threat to the demography of the state. But the regime has over the years added a distinct communal hue to the conflict, with the Sarma himself openly declaring that he did not need votes from Miya Muslims (a term used to refer to Bengali-speaking Muslims) in the run up to State Assembly elections last year.

Related:

Ajmal’s culture is my enemy: Assam CM’s openly anti-Muslim statement

Don’t need Miya Muslim vote: Himanta Biswa Sarma

 

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Videos

Communalism

Hate, Arms, Shrine Takeovers: Is Hindutva extremism at its peak in Karnataka?

WATCH: In this SabrangIndia Exclusive show called 'Column 9', journalist & activist Shivasundar talks about the journey of Hindutva Extremism, from fringe groups to the center, in Karnataka, which is arguably empowered and emboldened by the legislative and judiciary, simultaneously.

Communalism

Hate, Arms, Shrine Takeovers: Is Hindutva extremism at its peak in Karnataka?

WATCH: In this SabrangIndia Exclusive show called 'Column 9', journalist & activist Shivasundar talks about the journey of Hindutva Extremism, from fringe groups to the center, in Karnataka, which is arguably empowered and emboldened by the legislative and judiciary, simultaneously.

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives