Row over AIDUF MLA’s remarks on indigenous Muslims

An Assam MLA has sparked a controversy with his alleged attempt to unite the State’s various Islamic communities while claiming that the Miya (Bengali-speaking Muslims) people in the State were more indigenous than the Ahoms.

The Ahoms ruled Assam for more than 600 years before the British annexed the territory in 1826.

Assamese Muslim groups, who often distance themselves from their Bengal-origin counterparts, have slammed MLA Aminul Islam for asking all categories of Muslims to unite in the name of religion. Mr Islam represents the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) from the Dhing Assembly constituency.

Survey under fire

The MLA, who traces his roots to undivided Bengal, had three days ago criticised the Assam government’s decision to carry out a socio-economic survey of the Assamese Muslims categorised as Goria, Moria, Deshi and Jolaha according to the period and indigenous communities they had converted from.

“Assam has 1.21 crore Muslims out of 3.3 crore people. They have accepted Assamese culture and language and identify themselves as Assamese. They study in Assamese medium schools and speak the Assamese language. In every aspect of life, they use the Assamese language. It is unfortunate that even after that, they are seen as doubtful citizens. We cannot accept the move to divide the State’s Muslims,” he had said.

The Sadou Deshi Janagosthiya Jatiya Sangsad, Assam, which represents a category of Assamese Muslims, reacted by saying that the “religion-based politics of Mr. Islam and his party has no place in Assam”. The organisation’s president Enamul Haque said the AIUDF had not been given a contract to unite various Islamic communities and advised the MLA to go to “either Bangladesh or Pakistan” to practice his ideology.

Community first

“The indigenous Muslims converted to Islam from various local communities and they take pride in keeping their communities ahead of their religion,” Mr. Haque added.

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and All Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad also took offence at Mr. Islam’s claim that the Ahoms were less indigenous to the State than the Ahoms.

“The Ahoms came from Myanmar, which was never a part of India, and beyond. The Bengali-speaking Miya community belonged to East Bengal, once a part of India. So who is indigenous?” Mr. Islam had said.

“The AIUDF was formed to protect illegal immigrants after the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act of 1983 was scrapped in 2005. It is not unexpected of the MLA to make such a statement,” AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi, who belongs to the Ahom community, said.

Mr Islam, however, said his views had been misconstrued and he denied accusations of trying to foment communal tension.


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