Other States

Mark pre-British rule inhabitants as indigenous: Assamese Muslims

‘If 1951 is regarded as cut-off, identity of communities relevant since the Ahom era will be under threat’

An organisation representing Assamese Muslims has said only the communities that inhabited Assam before the advent of the British deserve Constitutional safeguards as indigenous people.

This has attained significance in the wake of suggestions by the Bharatiya Janata Party, ruling Assam in alliance with two regional parties, that 1951 be the cut-off year for determining citizens with special concessions for non-Muslim settlers.

Assam, then comprising much of present-day northeast, came under British rule after the Treaty of Yandaboo in February 1826 that ended a prolonged war with the Burmese who had invaded and taken control of the region.

Constitutional safeguards

“If 1951 is regarded as the cut-off year to provide Constitutional safeguards, will those who had migrated to Assam and got their names included in the 1951 National Register of Citizens be protected?” asked Hafijul Ahmed, president of the All Assam Goria Moria Deshi Jatiya Parishad.

Goria, Moria and Deshi are some of the categories of Assamese Muslims who distinguish themselves from the Bengali-speaking migrants and resent being equated with them.

“Indigenous people had converted to Islam to form these communities. But we are often regarded as Bangladeshi migrants because of our religion. By setting 1951 as the cut-off date, the identity of these communities, relevant since the Ahom era [13th century], will be under threat,” Mr. Ahmed told newspersons on Sunday.

Insisting that Constitutional safeguards should not be based on some year or date, leaders of the Parishad said selecting 1951 as the cut-off date would enable the Bhatiali, Mymensinga, Dhakai, Sylheti, Pabnaya and Boguraya (Muslims from areas now in Bangladesh) to get the indigenous tag.

Assam Agitation

“This will go against the spirit of the Assam Agitation, which was against illegal immigration from Bangladesh and prescribed March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date for detecting and deporting foreigners,” Mr. Ahmed said.

The NRC in Assam was updated on the basis of the Assam Accord date. Of the 3.3 crore people who applied, 19.06 lakh were excluded from the citizens’ list published on August 31, 2019.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 11:57:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mark-pre-british-rule-inhabitants-as-indigenous-assamese-muslims/article30600890.ece

Next Story