Assam plans survey to identify ‘indigenous’ Muslim population | The Daily Star
01:48 PM, February 10, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:54 PM, February 10, 2020

Assam plans survey to identify ‘indigenous’ Muslim population

The north eastern Indian state of Assam plans to conduct a survey to identify its “indigenous” Muslim population and segregate them from “illegal” Bangladeshi immigrants.

As per the plan, the survey will be conducted to identify people of four communities -- Goria, Moria, Desi and Jolah of the tea tribes, considered as “indigenous,” reports our New Delhi correspondent.

Assam Welfare of Minorities Minister Ranjit Dutta has convened a meeting tomorrow with various outfits of the four communities and other stakeholders to finalise the plan.

"Assam has about 1.3 crore Muslims population, of which around 90 lakh are of Bangladeshi origin. The remaining 40 lakh are from different tribes and they need to be identified," Assam Minority Development Board Chairman Muminul Aowal told the media in Guwahati.

The “indigenous” Muslims are deprived of benefits of the government welfare schemes in the absence of proper identification, he claimed.

Aowal, who is also the convenor of Janagosthiya Samanway Parishad Asom (JSPA), said the rationale behind such an exercise is to give protection to “indigenous” people from demographic changes in the state.

The final NRC in Assam published on August 31 last year excluded 19.1 lakh people, mostly Muslims, as well as Hindus, triggering a major row about its authenticity.

"The NRC included lakhs of Bangladeshi-origin people. So, we cannot rely on that. If we do not act now, one day all the indigenous tribes will be wiped out from Assam," Aowal added.

"Once the indigenous tribes are officially recognised, it will be better and easier to work for the development of these people. I, as a representative of these tribes, had in 2015 met the then Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh," Aowal said.

The indigenous groups had urged Singh for such a survey, he said.

Asked how the survey will be carried out, Aowal said "we will request the state government to get an approval from the RGI (Registrar General of India). Without the RGI's approval, the findings may not be legally tenable."

The organisations representing the Muslim tribes want the paper work to be completed by March so that the actual fieldwork of enumerating people can begin early next fiscal, he said.

"The entire initiative is of the Minority Affairs Department of the state government but it does not have the required manpower to carry out such a state-wide exercise. That is why it can be conducted through the Revenue Department which is present at the village-level," Aowal said. 

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