Assamese Muslims demand special community status

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Guwahati, Oct 6 (UNI) The Assamese Muslim community today demanded special community status for the 35 lakh members of this minority community and alleged that the special packages meant for them were getting diverted to Muslims of West Bengal origins due to political reasons.

Addressing a press meet here, senior advocate of Gauhati High Court Nekibur Zaman said, " The Assamese Muslims are being deprived of all the conveniences meant for them. These benefits are instead being enjoyed by Muslims of West Bengal origin. " Attended by many prominent members of the community, they rued the government "apathy" towards the Assamese Muslims and stressed the need for Constitutional safeguard and special economic package for the community.

They stated that they held no grudges against the West Bengal- origin Muslims and their complaints were against the government only. Underscoring the contribution of the community to the state's development over the past eight centuries, Mr Zaman said, " We have reached a stage where we are facing an identity crisis. " " Moreover, with the escalating infiltration of Bangladeshi nationals, we are looked at with suspicion, " he added.

He also pointed that as the number of public representatives from the Assamese Muslim community was negligible and the problems of the people of the community went unheard, which was not the case with the Muslims of West Bengal origin residing in the state.

Mr Zaman said, " The definition of Assamese Muslim in the present context does not hold any gravity. If the government cannot give us our dues, it should strip off the minority tag from us. " He said the demand for special community status was raised after wide consultations with people of the community.

" If the government does not respond to us, it will have to face agitation, " he added.

Citing instances of the "apathy" by the government, Mr A Ali Mir, author of books on Assamese Muslims, said, " The government schemes for the Muslims have never really reached the Assamese Muslims. The Muslims from West Bengal, who have arrived in the state only 100 years ago, have benefited most from these schemes. " The representatives of the Assamese Muslim community at the press conference, however, clarified that they were not against the Muslims from West Bengal. But they wanted the government to ensure that schemes meant for minorities benefited people from all regions.

UNI

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