Himanta Biswa Sarma
Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Guwahati: A committee set up by the Assam government has recommended that a notification be passed to identify “Assamese Muslims” as a distinct group in the state.

Assam government last year after discussion with Muslim intellectuals has decided to form eight sub-committees which lay down a roadmap for holistic development of the community in the next five years.

The committees on Thursday submitted their report to the chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who said that the government has accepted the definition of indigenous or Assamese Muslim put forward by the committee.  

“The definition of indigenous or Assamese Muslim put forward is acceptable. Once we have accepted that we have a target group. The recommendation put forward by committees’ is can be done. Some may require legislative and executive measures besides financial support,” Sarma said.

The committee has also suggested issuing identity cards or certifications as well as conducting a census to “identify and document” the Assamese Muslim community.

There are three main groups–the Goriyas, the Moriyas and the Deshis of the indigenous Assamese Muslim community.  

While the Deshis are 13th-century converts from indigenous communities such as Koch Rajbongshi and Mech, the Goriyas and Moriyas trace their lineage to converts as well as soldiers, artisans, etc. who came to the region during the Ahom rule.

These groups consider themselves distinct from the Bengali-speaking Muslims who migrated from East Bengal.

Apart from the identity, the report also spoke of more political representation for the group.

It called for a provision similar to Article 333 of the Constitution to provide “representation of Assamese Muslims in Parliament and Assam Legislative Assembly.”

“An Upper House (Legislative Council) may be created in Assam as per Article 169 of the Indian Constitution. Once the Legislative Council is formed, a specific number of seats may be reserved for the Assamese Muslim community in this Council” said a statement.

The report also made suggestions on matters related to education, political representation, health, skill development and women empowerment.

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