Covid-19: Assam FT members donate to relief efforts, but stipulate funds not be used for ‘jehadis’

Donors write to Health Minister giving details of donations, but also highlight how their pay hasn’t been increased since 2015


In a shocking display of communalism, members of Foreigners’ Tribunals who have made donations towards Covid-19 relief efforts of the Assam state government, have written to Assam Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma pleading that the funds not be used for providing relief to people who contracted the virus at the Tablighi Jamaat event organized in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz in March. The letter also uses words like “jehadi” and “jahil” to describe such people.

The letter signed by Kamalesh Kr. Gupta belonging to the Baksa FT, gives details of donations made to the Assam Arogya Nidhi by various FT members from Baksa, Silchar, Morigaon, Kamrup, Barpeta and Karimganj. But it makes one very peculiar request. The letter says, “Our only prayer is that the help may not be extended to the members of Violators Tablighi Jamaat, Jehadi and Jahil.”

It is noteworthy that hitherto, FTs had never openly showcased any communal bias while declaring Bengali Hindus and Muslims foreigner after hearing their cases. The stand of the quasi-judicial authorities so far, has been to rule against all people who are unable to defend their citizenship, irrespective of their religious background. But, the use of words such as “jehadi” with such impunity in an official communication to a senior state minister, now raises concerns about the possibility of anti-minority sentiments. The onus is now on the Assam state government to ensure checks and balances to prevent the ‘foreigners’ issue from getting communally polarized. It also needs to be examined as possible grounds for retrial in cases where Muslims have been declared foreigners, at least by the FTs mentioned in the letter.

But that’s not all. In the same letter, the FT members also take the opportunity to highlight that their remuneration has not been increased since 2015, citing this as the reason for not being able to make a larger donation. Now, even if though their concerns about a pay raise may be genuine, one wonders if it is proper to bring it up in a letter about donations. When the entire economy is in a flux, unemployment is at a historic high, some migrant labourers who had fled for their villages after the national lockdown was announced have actually died of hunger and thirst, is it appropriate for FT members to raise the matter of their increment amidst a national crisis?

The entire letter may be read here:




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