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Assam: State govt panel suggests using ID cards, census to distinguish ‘Assamese Muslims’ from Bangladeshi Muslims

The panel, which was divided into seven subcommittees, released its recommendations on Thursday after months of deliberation. The subcommittees were formed to make recommendations on issues such as politics, culture, education, health, skill development, and population stabilisation.

Following a meeting in July last year between Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and members of the Assamese Muslim community from various locations to discuss the group’s socioeconomic problems, the state government formed a panel, which has now proposed issuing a notification recognising “Assamese Muslims” as a distinct group in a state racked by illegal migration from neighbouring Bangladesh.

The panel recommended that Assamese Muslims be issued identification cards or certificates to show their distinct identities. The committees also recommended that the Assam government conduct a census to identify and document Assamese Muslims, as well as pass legislation comparable to Article 333 of the Indian Constitution to give representation in the Parliament and the Assam Legislative Assembly.

The panel, which was divided into seven subcommittees, released its recommendations on Thursday after months of deliberation. The subcommittees were formed to make recommendations on issues such as politics, culture, education, health, skill development, and population stabilisation. The committees were made up of renowned Assamese Muslim journalists, intellectuals, lawyers, activists, and academics.

The indigenous Assamese Muslims are divided into three primary groups: Goriyas, Moriyas (from Upper Assam), and Deshis (from Lower Assam). The Deshis are descended from 13th-century converts from indigenous groups such as Koch Rajbongshi and Mech, whereas the Goriyas and Moriyas are descended from converts as well as warriors, craftsmen, and others who arrived in the region during the Ahom period. This category also includes smaller groups, such as Julha Muslims. These tribes are distinct from Bengali-speaking Muslims who have come from East Bengal or Bangladesh.

CM Himanta Biswa Sarma, who accepted the report on Thursday, stated that all of the proposals were “implementable,” but only in phases.

The report submitted by the panel included recommendations on education, health, skill development, and women’s empowerment. In terms of population stability, the panel recommended that underage marriage be prohibited and that indigenous Assamese Muslims be subjected to population control measures.

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