Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI—Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), a leading socio-cultural organization of Indian Muslims, has demanded implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) prepared under the supervision of Supreme Court, and expulsion of all foreigners from Assam.
The demand has been made in a 31-point charter of demands submitted to all the political parties in the state, excepting BJP.
The demand is quite important as the state is going for assembly polls from March 27 to April 6.
It may be mentioned here that a total of 19,06,657 people in Assam could not prove themselves to be Indian citizens during an NRC drive in the state conducted under the direct supervision of SC in 2019. NRC in Assam was the biggest ever drive to verify citizenship in India.
The people left out of NRC have been given a chance to prove their citizenship by submitting relevant documents before the foreigner tribunals set up at different places in the state.
Out of 19 lakh people excluded from NRC, 13 lakh are said to be Bengali Hindus and the remaining Bengali Muslims. It was primarily to protect the interest of Bengali Hindus and to create a permanent vote-bank in Bengali Hindu concentrated areas of Assam as also to gain political foothold in neighbouring West Bengal that BJP brought the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 so that Bengali Hindus were granted Indian citizenship while Bengali Muslims in Assam were rendered stateless citizens and thus deprived of their right to vote. Since the scope of CAA is not limited to Assam only but it covered the entire country, Muslims opposed it by launching protest against the new citizenship laws all across the country. The protest was, however, withdrawn in March 2020 due to lockdown in the wake of Corona pandemic. CAA also witnessed massive protest by native Assamese population as they felt that granting citizenship to Bengali Hindus will change demographic as well as political profile of the state, putting the native Assamese at a great disadvantage politically. Life in Guwahati, Assam’s biggest city, remained completely paralysed for weeks with many people having lost their lives during the protest. Assamese fear that political power would gradually shift in the hands of Bengalis as has happened in neighbouring Tripura where Bengali migrant population outnumber the local tribal population and have captured political power in the state. Native Assamese and their parties are still strongly opposing CAA. So, JIH’s political belief as far as Assam is concerned, is very much in consonance with the political views of the native Assamese.
Muslims in Assam account for 34.33 per cent of the total population and are in majority in nine out of 34 districts, namely, Dhubri, Nagaon, Barpeta, Karimganj, Goalpara, Morigaon, Darrang, Bongaigaon and Hailakandi. As per 2011 Census, Muslim population of Assam is 1.07 crores out of a total of 3.12 crores. Muslims always played an important role in formation of the government in the state but they have now become politically insignificant with rise of Hindutva politics based on religious polarisation that poisoned political atmosphere across India.
Seal Indo-Bangla border to stop “Illegal infiltration”
Demanding that the problem of D-voters in Assam be solved immediately and no Indian citizen be harassed in the name of “illegal foreigners”, JIH has strongly demanded that Indo-Bangla border must be sealed to stop “illegal infiltration”.
The Jamaat has also demanded repeal of CAA-2019 and the three farmers laws enacted in 2020 which are being opposed by farmers all over the country.
Withdraw Assam Repealing Bill, 2020
The Muslim body also forcefully demanded that the Assam Repealing Bill, 2020 that has closed government-run ‘madrasas’ be withdrawn, political parties must stop Hindu-Muslim politics and give importance to strengthening unity and harmony among members of different castes, creed and religion.
Appeal to fight “fascist, communal” parties
Appealing to create a nationwide atmosphere to fight “fascist and communal parties”, the Jamaat urged that efforts must be made “to protect the democratic and secular character of the Constitution of India” and “a congenial atmosphere be created to ensure that people of all faiths and belief can live in peace and with self-dignity”. This is quite relevant as Sweden-based V-Dem Institute recently downgraded India from ‘the world’s largest democracy’ to an ‘electoral autocracy’ and US watchdog Freedom House’s Freedom of World report downgraded India from a “Free Country” to a “Partly Free Country”. ‘Electoral autocracy’ means that the people in India are less free than they were earlier. According to political commentators, “autocracy means a system of government by one person with absolute power” and “autocracy is more or less like a dictatorship”. Report by V-Dem Institute says that India has put restrictions on multiple aspects of democracy including freedom of speech. Freedom House’s report has attributed the downgrade to “rising violence and discriminatory policies affecting the Muslim population” and “crackdown on expressions of dissent by the media, academics, civil society groups, and protesters” under the BJP government.
Some of other important demands taken up with political parties are:
*People imprisoned in jails for a prolonged period must be freed by conducting speedy trial of their cases in fast-track courts.
*Special attention be given to safeguard the rights of women.
Here is the full letter: