A proposal to issue identity cards to Assamese Muslims faces stiff resistance from the Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF which cited that there is no standard definition of ‘Assamese’ and accused the BJP government in the state of diverting attention from development “failures” with the move.
The recommendation had come recently from a panel constituted by the state government last year for overall development of the “indigenous Assamese Muslims”. The panel, which was divided into seven sub-committees, recommended that a notification be passed to identify Assamese Muslims as a distinct group.
Speaking against the proposal, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) MLA Rafiqul Islam told News18: “The BJP in Assam is unable to bring about any development in the region. So they are playing the religious card. This is a conspiracy to divide the Muslims in Assam, to break the peace and unity of the region.”
“What is the need of such identity… ‘Assamese Muslims’… What does it even mean? All Indian citizens are Indian and those living in Assam are Assamese.”
“There is no proper definition of the word Assamese. Not even the Assam Accord could give it. No one will accept this, not even the Supreme Court,” Islam added.
Countering Islam’s assertions, BJP leader Syed Muminul Aowal, who also heads the Janagosthiya Samannay Parishad (JSPA), said the proposal will give indigenous Muslims an official identity of being from Assam. JSPA is an umbrella body of more than 30 indigenous organisations.
“This is going to benefit the actual minorities of the region. There are almost 1 crore Bangladeshi Muslims now in Assam and indigenous Muslims are almost 45 lakh in number. So those Muslims from Bangladesh are not a minority anymore. This process will benefit the actual minorities of the region,” he told News18.
“AIUDF is opposing this because their leader Badruddin Ajmal is himself a Bangladeshi Muslim. Such bad forces will try to obstruct good things in the state. But we have faith in Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma that he will make this a reality,” added Aowal.