Five Muslim sub-groups in Assam get “indigenous status”

 

Guwahati, July 6: The Assam Cabinet has decided to grant indigenous status to five subgroups of Assamese-speaking Muslims – Syed, Goriya, Moriya, Deshi and Jolha.

The move, aimed at protecting the interests of indigenous Assamese Muslims, comes after last month’s announcement by chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma that the state government would take steps for separate classification of indigenous minorities in the state, including Muslim communities.

The Cabinet approval, it may be noted, also comes in less than three months after seven sub-groups/committees, which were constituted to outline a roadmap for overall development of indigenous minorities in Assam, had submitted their recommendations to the chief minister.

The sub-committees on cultural identity, health, education, skill development, population stabilisation, financial inclusion and women empowerment were formed consequent to an interaction between the chief minister and over 150 leading personalities from indigenous minority communities across various fields here last year.

“People belonging to these five Muslim communities will be categorised as Assamese Muslim sub-groups or indigenous Assamese Muslims,” Assam health minister Keshab Kumar Mahanta informed after the the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening.

Chief minister Sarma had earlier stated that the move was necessitated to identify people from minority communities who are original residents of Assam and not migrants.

Earlier this year, while making a presentation on the recommendations in regard to identity of indigenous Assamese Muslims, chairman of the sub-committee on cultural identity, Wasbir Hussain had suggested that the state government, through a notification, could recognise the Assamese Muslims as an indigenous Assamese-speaking community of Assam.

Hussain further recommended that a separate directorate/authority might be set up for Assamese Muslims to provide necessary documentation to the people of the community to reflect their distinct identity.

“The Assam government may undertake a census to identify and document the Assamese Muslim community,” he said.

In regard to political representation, Hussain suggested that a provision similar to Article 333 of the Indian Constitution might be enacted to provide representation of Assamese Muslims in Parliament and Assam Legislative Assembly.

 

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