The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jamiat chief reads riot act to Gogoi

Guwahati, April 3: The influential Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind today threatened to 'overthrow' the Congress government in Assam if its demands were not fulfilled within six months, forcing a hassled Tarun Gogoi to come out with a list of steps taken by his ministry for the welfare of the minorities.

Accusing Gogoi of depriving the minority community of several benefits, Jamiat president Maulana Asad Madani warned of a 'jungle raj' if the government did not change its attitude.

'They elected you to deliver justice to all. You cannot go on depriving them just because they are Muslims,' he said as the chief minister squirmed in his seat during a rally organised by the Assam unit of the Jamiat at Guwahati's Sonaram Field.

The voluble Madani claimed minorities in Assam were bring deprived of land pattas (ownership documents), jobs, electricity and roads. 'Don't neglect your party manifesto or you will be pulled down,' he said.

The Jamiat's 18-point charter of demands includes reservation of jobs and seats for the minorities, based on the population pattern, in government departments and educational institutions.

Another of its demands is immediate allotment of permanent land pattas to minorities settled in the char (tiny river isles) areas of the state. The Jamiat also wants victims of ethnic conflict, particularly in the Bodo heartland, to be properly rehabilitated.

Refuting allegations of bias towards the minority community during the recent recruitment to the constabulary, the Jamiat demanded a white paper on jobs given to minorities in various government departments in the last 10 years.

On illegal migration from Bangladesh to Assam, the organisation admitted it was a serious problem and suggested that a register of citizens be prepared with March 25, 1971, as the base year. It contended that there was nothing wrong with the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act and it ought to be extended to other parts of the country.

Responding to the public criticism by Madani, Gogoi said his government never differentiated between any community and claimed more funds had been allotted for the welfare of the community during his tenure than at any time in the state's history.

He held up Rockybul Hussain, who is the minister of state for home, as an example of minorities being given key portfolios in his government.

Sounding a trifle sentimental, the chief minister said he was not in politics merely to be in power. 'If you think your problems will be solved by removing me, I am ready to leave. I am not hankering after any post.'

Apparently not satisfied with the clarifications, Madani grabbed the microphone again and asked the chief minister how long the minorities would have to subsist on mere assurances.

Gogoi repeated his promise to look into the problems of the community in a bid to calm the Jamiat chief.

The importance of the Jamiat for the Congress can be gauged from the fact that AICC general secretary Chandan Bagchi arrived in Guwahati with a message from party president Sonia Gandhi.

'Last night at 2.30, Ahmed Patel (the Congress chief's political secretary) called me to inform that Soniaji wants me to fly to Guwahati to be with you and deliver her message,' Bagchi said.

The AICC leader defended the Gogoi government, saying it had indeed taken several steps for the welfare of the minorities.

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