April 24, 2024, 9:47 am

Assam CM lays down ‘indigenous’ rules for Bangladesh-origin Muslims

  • Update Time : Sunday, March 24, 2024
  • 19 Time View
Photo: Collected

International Desk:

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday laid down certain conditions for the migrant Bangladesh-origin Bengali-speaking Muslims, called “miya”, if they want to be recognised as indigenous people of the state: “They should stop having more than two children and practising polygamy as it is not the culture of Assamese people. If they want to become indigenous, they cannot marry off their minor daughters.”

He wondered how could Bengali-speaking Muslims claim to be indigenous if they encroached on ‘satras’ (Vaishnavite monasteries) land, reports The Time of India.

“Instead of sending your children to madrassas, educate them to become doctors and engineers if you want to be called indigenous,” Sarma said, adding, they should also start sending their daughters to schools and give them the right over their fathers’ properties.

“These are the differences between them and the indigenous people of the state. If they can give up these practices and imbibe the culture of Assamese people, at some point of time they too can become indigenous,” Sarma said.

Assam has the second largest population of Muslims after J&K. The 2011 census states that Muslims account for over 34% of Assam’s total population. But this Muslim population in the state is of two distinct ethnicities – Bengali-speaking and Bangladesh-origin migrant Muslims and Assamese-speaking indigenous Muslims.

In 2022, the Assam cabinet recognised around 40 lakh Assamese-speaking Muslims of the state, who do not have any history of migration from Bangladesh, as “indigenous Assamese Muslims” and a sub-group of the greater native Assamese community, making a clear distinction between the two groups of Muslims.

However, a major chunk of the Muslim population in the state is of Bangladesh-origin migrants. The Assamese-speaking indigenous Muslims are just about 37% of the total Muslim population while the migrant Bengali-speaking Muslims accounting for the remaining 63%. The cabinet-approved ‘indigenous’ Assamese Muslims comprise five groups – Goria, Moria, Jolah (only the ones living in tea gardens), Desi and Syed (only the Assamese-speaking).

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