GUWAHATI, March 31 - Members of the indigenous Muslim community of Assam, who have been living in this land for hundreds of years, have called for a socio-economic census for their all-round development, with the minority vote bank becoming a crucial factor for every political party during every election � be it Panchayat, Assembly or Lok Sabha.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, senior advocate Nekibur Zaman said, �There is an urgent need for a socio-economic census to detect the indigenous Muslim populace in Assam. Moreover, we also need a competent authority to issue certificate for indigenous Muslims along with a strong policy for job creation and other facilities. Otherwise, the condition of the indigenous Muslims who are scattered in various parts of the State will not change.�
According to him, in Assam, around 44 lakh indigenous Muslims reside across the State, but they are spread over in small social groups. Because of this, they could never become an important factor in electing a candidate during any election, unlike the immigrant Muslim people coming from erstwhile East Pakistan.
Eminent theatre personality of the Sate Baharul Islam said in Assam, the �lungi-wearing� people always face lots of mistreatment and harassment. �All lungi-clad people are not infiltrators. The government should take steps to change the situation. Hope, the National Registrar of Citizen will be helpful for the indigenous Muslim people in gaining a life with dignity. Moreover, it is very pathetic that all political parties invariably use the minority community as vote bank but never do anything for their development. Those people are illiterate and not aware about family planning, leading to a high population growth rate. Resultantly, their conditions have deteriorated day by day.�
According to Islam, a real change in society would be possible only when the people of the country would use their brains during casting of vote. �Unless and until that happens, we will remain deprived in all fronts. We are always against the infiltrators. The government must take steps to identify and deport them. A mere eviction drive is a not a fruitful tool to address the problem,� he added.
Cultural worker Nazrul Islam, while terming themselves as Assamese first and then only Muslim, said their problems were same as those of all other indigenous peoples of the State.
�In the true sense, we have no representative in both Assembly and Parliament, because the indigenous Muslims are not a key factor during elections. So, we are always deprived of accessing the benefits of minority welfare schemes,� he said. Another activist and leader of Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, Matiur Rahman said in Assam in particular, benefits of all minority welfare schemes are always received by the Bengali Muslims and the indigenous Musilms invariably remain deprived and lag behind. In the post-Independence era, we have been deprived in every step. All political parties ignore us because we are not a vote bank for them, he added.
�Across the State, 40-45 lakhs of Gariya, Maria and Deshi Muslim people reside but they do not get any attention from any government. We always used to raise our demands but so far failed to get any response. All facilities always go to the immigrant and outsider Muslims. It is not fair,� he said. He said they had moved the Prime Minister and the President of India demanding redressal of their grievances.
�In India, the socio-economic conditions of backward classes in remote places have not changed. The reservation policy is yet to be implemented properly in the country. Our elected representative should stress this matter,� he added.
�The indigenous Muslims of Assam have been betrayed by both the Congress and the BJP governments. Now, we see that in the name of welfare schemes for minority people, the present State government has made some false statements,� said Ismail Ali of Guwahati.
He also urged all political parties not to play vote bank politics during election if they really wanted to develop all sections of society.
�The government needs to identify all indigenous Muslims and use minority welfare schemes for their development,� he added.