Two weeks after an FIR was filed against 10 people for a poem criticising the National Register of Citizens (NRC), several intellectuals, activists and civil society members have issued a statement on the matter. The statement draws attention to the politics of religious polarisation and the secular character of Assamese culture where both, Hindus and Muslims have coexisted for centuries.
The statement is signed by 32 eminent Assamese people including Prof. Abdul Mannan (Former Professor, Guwahati University), Shaiiz Uddin Ahmed (Advocate, Gauhati High Court), eminent writers Dr. Ahijuddin Sheikh, Dr. Fazlur Rahman, Dr Abul Hussain, Prof. Abdur Rouf, literary critics Shajahan Siddique, Dr Hasinus Sultan, and senior journalist Zamser Ali among others. The entire statement may be read here:
Politics behind Miyah Poetry
The recent development over Miyah Poetry in Assam has drawn the attention of the academics and intellectuals across the country. The FIRs against 10 persons for writing Miyah poetry have been condemned. We do firmly believe in the freedom of expression as enshrined in our Constitution. It is entirely unjustified and condemnable to harass people for writing poetry or expressing emotions through similar media. However, this self expression should not hurt the sentiments of others.
Meanwhile, the present controversy on the issue of Miyah Poetry seems to have been created with specific political agenda. It must be seen in the larger context of the divisive Hindutva politics in Assam and India. The toughest challenge that the Hindutva politics is facing in Assam is from the idea of linguistic Assamese nationalism which is secular and accommodative. Those who are working hard to make full penetration of Hindutva ideology into the body fabric of Assamese society can not digest the idea of the Assamese nationalism which is inclusive towards the Muslims and the Miyahs as well. It is well known to all that the Hindutva politics wants to see the Muslims segregated and alienated from the mainstream so that total religious polarisation can be achieved. In Assam, the stumbling block in front of this total Hindu-Muslim divide is the secular Assamese nationalism. All other smaller ethnic groups have almost come under Hindutva ambit. Even the regional party AGP has remained an ally of the ruling BJP. However, there still remains a large section of people in Assam adhering to the idea of secular Assamese nationalism.
The prolonged controversy over the Miyah poetry has become an effective instrument in the hands of Hindutva forces because it is further widening the gap between the Muslims as well as Miyah people and the Assamese society. Those who are supposedly trying to reclaim "Miyah identity" through Miyah Poetry may end up in finding the Muslims, mostly the Miyah people, totally isolated from the rest of the Assamese society which is the most desired objective of the Hindutva politics in Assam. This divisive politics also wants to see that there remains no sympathy or fellow feeling towards the Muslims as well as the Miyah people. This can be done when it will be established that the Miyah people no longer identify themselves with the Assamese nationalism or even the rest of the Assamese society. The present emphasis on Miyah poetry seems to serve this very purpose which the Hindutva politics wants to fulfill in Assam. Therefore, the issue of Miyah Poetry must be seen within the context of the larger agenda of Hindutva politics in Assam. Therefore, we make a sincere appeal to all those who are involved in this debate to put an end to this controversy immediately.
I Am ‘Miya’ — Reclaiming Identity Through Protest Poetry