Monday, 30th October 2017

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Minority finger at global anti-NRC plot

A day before publication of the final draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC), an organisation representing indigenous Assamese Muslims on Sunday alleged that an "international fundamentalist force" was trying incite them to join their campaign against the "historic exercise" aimed at resolving Assam's foreigner problem.

By Sumir Karmakar in Guwahati
  • Published 30.07.18
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Guwahati: A day before publication of the final draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC), an organisation representing indigenous Assamese Muslims on Sunday alleged that an "international fundamentalist force" was trying incite them to join their campaign against the "historic exercise" aimed at resolving Assam's foreigner problem.

The Sadou Asom Garia Maria Deshi Jati Parishad, which claims to represent 42 lakh indigenous Muslims in the state, said although update of the NRC 1951 was possible because of over 30-year-long fight by the indigenous people, a fundamental force, aided by international fundamentalist agencies, was trying to derail it by conducting "misinformation campaign" that updating the register is anti-Muslim.

"I get calls from several organisations, asking me to join their campaign. Since I am a Muslim, I was asked to join them as they consider NRC as an exercise against the Muslims. I was added in a WhatsApp group by a Muslim organisation spearheading a similar campaign a few months ago without my permission. I lodged an FIR with police, seeking action but the police submitted the final report of the case in a court without solving the issue. The government has not fulfilled our demand of safeguarding our identity as indigenous Assamese Muslims," adviser to the organisation and veteran lawyer Nekibur Zaman said.

The final draft of the NRC, which was updated with March 24, 1971, as cut-off date, will be published on Monday morning.

Although indigenous communities see this as a historic exercise to detect illegal migrants living in Assam, indigenous Assamese Muslim communities such as Goria, Moria, Ujani, Deshi, Jola, Poimal and others alleged that many have been tagged as doubtful or D-voters, and even sent in detention camps for being Muslims.

The organisation claimed that of the 1.18 crore Muslim population, 42 lakh are indigenous Assamese who either converted into Islam or were war prisoners when Mughals and Ahoms had fought in Assam.

"The sense of fear and deployment of such huge security forces suggest that a section is trying to create communal tension by projecting NRC on communal lines. Avaaz, a US-based community campaign portal, is conducting an international campaign, projecting NRC as an anti-Muslim move but the government seems to have taken no action. BJP MLA Shiladitya Deb's statement against Muslims on NRC is also communal. Why is the government not arresting him?" Zaman, who is associated with the All Assam Students' Union and several organisations representing indigenous communities, asked.

Azizul Rahman, general secretary of the Parishad, said more than 3,600 indigenous Muslims have been tagged as D-voters by a section of government officials for being Muslims while seven are lodged in foreigner detention camps.

"Most Poimals, who work in tea gardens, have been tagged D-voters and they are fighting cases in foreigners tribunals. After publication of the final draft, we will help the indigenous people to enrol their names so that they are not excluded for being Muslims and are not clubbed with Bengali-speaking illegal migrants from Bangladesh," he added.

Avaaz faced strong criticism in Assam for its online campaign that alleged that the names of 70 lakh Muslims would be deleted through the NRC update.

The portal also compared the NRC exercise with the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. Assam police blocked some "objectionable posts" from the portal after more than 8 lakh Internet users signed the online petition.