The indigenous Assamese Muslims have demanded theyr own version of ‘NRC’ so the indigenous communities of Muslims ae not confused as immigrants from neighbouring nations.
The Janagosthiya Samannay Parishad (JSP) which represents Goriya, Moriya and Deshi “khilonjiya” or indigenous Muslim population, has decided to conduct its own mini-‘NRC’ to segregate themselves from the migratory Muslim population- the Miyan (Bengali-speaking migrant Muslims from East Bengal) and re-establish their identity.
Janagosthiya Samannay Parishad calls it an ‘identity crisis’
Justifying the need for conducting a customized NRC, the Janagosthiya Samannay Parishad (JSP) said that this step was necessary to “overcome an identity crisis” that the indigenous Assamese Muslims have been facing because of being bracketed with migrant Muslims, as reported by The Hindu.
JSP’s chief convener Syed Mominul Aowal said, “We are undertaking the exercise from April 15 on the Assamese New Year day. Applicants will be required to apply online for the inclusion of their names in the list of indigenous Muslims. The draft will be published following verification of documents.”
The decision to conduct this exercise was taken after some migrant Muslims initiated a program to bring all Muslims living in Assam under one umbrella. “Our religion and names may be the same but the indigenous Muslims have a distinct identity, given by the Ahom and Koch kings,” Aowal said in a press conference.
Aowal further added, “It is unfortunate that in the name of Islam, the Goriya, Moriya and Deshi communities are being merged with the Miyas (Bengali-speaking migrant Muslims). We have to keep our identity distinct.”
Aowal added that together with Ahoms, the indigenous Muslim communities in Assam had also fought against Mughals and had also participated in the freedom struggle.
The Muslim-NRC process
The organization has created a portal with a three-month window frame starting April 15, for 40 lakh Assamese Muslims to submit all relevant documents required for identification given by the organization and competent government authority. A draft will be published by the organization upon the completion of the verification process.
“We are receiving donations from indigenous Muslims for the exercise that will be wound up by the year-end,” Syed Aowal informed.
Assam’s indigenous Muslims
With a history that dates back several centuries, it is said that the Goriya Muslims were converted from various indigenous groups and tribes, the Moriya’s ancestors were brought by the Ahom kings to make weapons and utensils for the dynasty, and the Deshi converted specifically from the Koch-Rajbongshi community.
The indigenous Mulsim population, though small in numbers have been very particular about maintaining their distinct identity. Moreover, the lands of many indigenous Muslim communities are under encroachment by immigrant Muslims for being small in number.
In October last year, the indigenous Muslims of Assam had opposed the proposal of setting up a Miya Museum in Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra in Guwahati.
Various organizations representing different indigenous Muslim communities of Assam had appealed to the government to conduct a survey of the indigenous Muslims to separate them from the immigrants. However, the inaction from the government forced them to start the process by themselves.