‘Bengal-origin’ Muslims cast shadow on Himanta scheme | India News

GUWAHATI: The doyen of Assamese culture and literature, Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, coined the term “Na Asamiya” (neo-Assamese) for the population that was assimilating with the greater Assamese society from the colonial era.
In his famous poem “Asomiya Dekar Ukti”, it was a brave attempt to give a broader definition of Assamese identity to include the “Mymensinghia” or the Muslims who migrated from Mymensingh district of the erstwhile East Bengal.
Decades later when chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has taken an initiative aimed at population control and overall well-being of the minority community, it’s the “Bengal origin” which is again haunting the migrant Muslims mostly settled in lower and western Assam.
Sarma, in his first round of talks invited the “indigenous Muslims”, but said the talks will also be held with the immigrant Muslim population later.
However, it was decided at Sunday’s meeting to constitute eight sub-groups to recommend welfare measures to be taken up by the state government for the next five years — from skilling the minority people to improve their accessibility to health and education. Nevertheless, population control will be the prime agenda.
While most have welcomed the measures, many are critical of the exclusion of the migrant Muslims. “Often Bengal origin Muslims are blamed for alleged abnormal growth of population. If the government wants to sensitize this section of Muslims, we should not have been sidelined from the first meeting,” said Hafiz Ahmed, president of Char-Chapori Sahitya Parishad (CCSP) — a leading organization fighting for the rights of migrant Muslims in the char-chapori or riverine areas of the state.

Right-wing groups have often alleged that vast parts in the interiors of these areas are inhabited by illegal Bangladeshi migrants who claim to have entered Assam before 1971— the cut-off year for detection and deportation of illegal migrants in Assam.
The struggle for livelihood and basic needs is the same for indigenous Muslims and those who have roots in Bengal, but, Ahmed said further division between the Muslims in the names indigenous and Bengal origin won’t send a message of unity.
“The Bengal origin Muslims who had migrated half a decade before independence are undoubtedly Assamese Muslims,” Ahmed asserted.
Senior advocate Nekibur Zaman, who attended Sunday’s meeting, said indigenous Muslims will surely benefit if the words are translated into deeds. “We have suffered a lot for years due to the lower population ratio. From the government schemes too, large numbers of indigenous Muslims have always been left out,” said Zaman.
He felt that due to the scattered population of their group, the other faction has always been in an advantageous position with a concentrated population in lower and western Assam. “We are basically converted people. Our ancestors came here centuries ago but we don’t have ministers and MLAs to raise our voice today. So we have been suffering,” Zaman added.
The estimated population of indigenous Muslims are 42 lakhs in Assam, while those who had roots in undivided Bengal now have around 70-80 lakh population.
But youngsters from the minority community believe that all steps initiated by Sarma are welcome except for the division between the Muslims. “There is a tendency to alienate the Muslims in the name of Bengal origin,” said AIUDF MLA from Chenga in lower Assam, Ashraful Hussain.
He said the huge Bengal origin population may be deprived in the long -run, if the government adopts a biased approach. “For population control, we demand improvement of health and education infrastructure. Forceful measures to control population will be problematic,” the youngest legislator in Assam assembly, said.

Click Here
Click Here

Click Here

Click Here

Click Here

Click Here

Click Here

Click Here
Click Here
Click Here
Click Here
Click Here
Click Here
Click Here
Click Here
Click Here
Click Here
Click Here

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *