Divisive politics at a high, Khilonjia Muslim v/s outsider, a new ploy in Assam

Separate allocations within ‘minority development’ for varied minorities in the state

Assam NRCPhoto Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar / The Hindu


Guwahati, February 12: Finding itself losing support with the three month long agitation against the CAA 2019 in Assam, the BJP led-Assam government is all set to divide the minority in the state into two distinct folds. The motive is clear: create a support base among a group of the minority people while spreading hatred against the other. The government of Assam had, in its last budget allocated Rs. 100 crores under the Minority Development Department, a separate provision to create Goria, Moria, Deshi Development Board for the ‘development’ of these communities under the various Muslim minority within Assam. This provision was made in the last budget tabled before the state Assembly in February 2019. For over a year the Minority Development Minister was silent on the issue. But months after losing political ground after the enactment of the CAA 2019, the issue has been raked up through both the Minister and the Chairman of Minority Development Board in Assam.

An important meeting was held at Dispur on Monday, February 10 to “finalise” the norms and criteria to define the Khilonjia Muslim in Assam so that the allocated money can be used for this group among Muslims. While the budgetary provision of Rs 100 crores was for the “development” of Goria, Moria, Deshi and Jolhah groups of people  all within the Muslim Minority communities in the State, suddenly the Minority Development Minister, Ranjit Dutta and Assam Minorities Development Board Chairman Muminul Awal, –ignoring the budgetary  provision—bifurcating the funds within the Muslim minority. The aim? The minority Muslim can be divided into two folds inevitably at odds against the other. The meeting decided that the entire indigenous Muslim people will be finalised through a separate census conducted under Assam Minorities Development Board. After the completion of this census the amount allocated for the Goria, Moria, Deshi and Jolhah Development Council will be disbursed.

In the meantime, Assam Minority Development Board Chairman Mr Muminul Awal attending a huge gathering at Mancachar in lower Assam alleged that, “Bangladeshi Muslims has become a challenge for the indigenous Muslim people of Assam. The Goria, Moria, Deshi and Jolhah Muslims are indigenous people in Assam and they will have to take firm stand so that no Miya Muslim can influence any assembly constituency in the state. ‘Deshi Muslims’ have to stand with Koch-Rajbanshi , Garo-Hajong people of the state so that no ‘Miya’ can represent the constituencies like Mancachar, South Salmara and Dhubri. Mancachar is on the Indo-Bangladesh border in Assembly constituency where 92% residents belong to the Muslim minority with Koch-Rajbanshi, Garo-Hajong people comprising less than 2% of the population in the constituency. This Mancachar constituency has been represented a dozen times by the MLA belonging to the ‘Deshi Muslim’ community and twice by a ‘non-Deshi’ Muslim community MLA. But the voter of this constituency has, cutting cross their religious or ethnic lines, voted for a person having secular credentials. Ignoring this historical fact, the Assam Minorities Development Board Chairman demanded that there should be ‘reservation’ for the seat of the Mancachar Assembly constituency so that a Garo or a Hajong people can represent the constituency.

The present move of Assam government aimed at creating a bitter divide within Muslims to further create social unrest among the minority. The Assam Minorities Development Board has been functioning as the pivotal authority for all minority groups of people in the state including Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Parsis along with Muslims in Assam. With this additional emphasis on the development of indigenous Muslims of the state, it remains to be seen how this move of the state government is weighed given the provisions of the law and the constitution.


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