Assamese Muslims seek census to check identity crisis

Assamese Muslims seek census to check identity crisis

Indigenous Muslims performing Bihu in Assam. (File photo)

Assamese Muslims seems to be caught in the warp of Narendra Modi government's move to give citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants till December 2014 and the large number of Bengali-speaking pre-1971 Muslims to get citizenship through NRC.

As the ethnic communities in Assam are oppising the Citizenship (Amendment) Act fearing identity crisis from Hindu migrants, the indigenous Mulsims have stepped up their demand for a special census and a satellite autonomous council for protection their indigenous identity.

"As the CAA carries the threat of dividing the society on religious lines by giving citizenship to the Hindus, indigenous Muslims will also be suspected as foreigners along with the Bengali speaking Muslims. The indigenous Muslims are mostly the converts from various Assamese communities. We never felt isolated from the Assamese society. But the CAA and NRC will bring identity crisis to us. Therefore the state government must carry a proper census and give us some kind of safeguards," said a co-ordination committee of indiegnous Muslims in Assam.

The committee has convened meeting on December 28 to step up demand for the autonomous council. The demand comes days after BJP-led government in Assam decided to set up three new autonomous councils for Koch Rajbongshi, Motock and Moran communities following fear of identity crisis over the CAA. The government also decided to give more power to similar councils for six other communities.

According to organisations representing the Assamese Muslims, of the 1.18 crore Muslim population in Assam, nearly 42 lakh belong to indigenous Assamese communities such as Goria, Moria, Ujani, Deshi, Jola and Poimal. They had either converted to Islam or were war prisoners in the Mughals-Ahoms battles in Assam in the 13th Century. 

They however, fear that their identity as indigenous Assamese would be at stake as they could be mixed up with large number of Bengali speaking Muslims to get citizenship through the NRC.

They have also demanded OBC status, like other ethnic communities such as the Ahoms and Morans.