The problem was getting compounded with the media calling Muslims as Bangladeshi instead of Assamese

Speakers at a symposium here on Sunday asked the government to take urgent steps to ensure safe return of the Assam refugees to their homes. The victims should be rehabilitated and provided proper compensation as envisaged in the Communal Violence Bill using the Rs.300 crore grant announced by the Prime Minister, they demanded.

The symposium on “Persecution of Minorities: branding own citizens as infiltrators” was organised by the Human Welfare Foundation, A.P. chapter, and the Students’ Islamic Organisation of India, Hyderabad. The meeting urged the government to disarm the militants as they were bent on exploiting the situation with an eye on the 2014 elections.

“The Bodoland Territorial Council should be dissolved and a new arrangement worked out in the light of the Bhupinder Singh committee to ensure justice to all communities of the region”, they said.

Hamed Mohammed Khan, president, Movement for Peace and Justice, dubbed as ‘fallacious’ the theory of ‘infiltration’ and said the decadal growth rate among Muslims in the trouble torn areas proved it.

There was only two per cent increase in Muslim population from 28 to 30 per cent and it was natural.

“The conflict portrayed as indigenous verses foreigners is a ploy to derive political mileage in the 2014 elections since the Mandir-Masjid issue is dead”, Mr. Khan remarked.

Separatist movement

Zahid Qaudri of Hyderabad Helpline said the Assam imbroglio was not a communal problem but a separatist movement. The Assam Gana Parishad came to power on the single point agenda of throwing out infiltrators but could detect only 256 persons during its 10 years rule. It ought to have deported the infiltrators in lakhs if they were there.

Mr. Qaudri criticised the ‘hype’ about the exodus of ‘few thousand’ North Easterners from South India when nearly five lakh Assam Muslims were in relief camps. Moreover, the exodus was the result of security concerns. “Which is a bigger human rights tragedy”, he asked.

Zaheeruddin Ali Khan, managing editor, Siasat, wanted the fascist forces behind the Assam violence to be exposed. The problem was getting compounded with the media calling Muslims as Bangladeshi instead of Assamese.

Intellectual debate

Farhan Sumbul, member, SIO, wanted an intellectual debate on the issue without raising passions. Assam was home to indigenous Assamese-speaking Muslims and indigenous Bengali-speaking Muslims from East and West Bengal who settled here before Independence.

“It is a shame that all natural citizens are being dubbed as infiltrators”, he said.

Abdul Jabbar Siddiqui, general secretary, Human Welfare Foundation, said the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts areas did not have Bodo majority.

It had a mixed population with Bodos comprising just 29 per cent.

He condemned the ‘shameful inhuman politics’ being played by right-wing politicians terming the Muslim population of the region as illegal Bangaldesh migrants.