Minority Muslims of Assam
Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Yes, my younger sister Nisha had never any problem with the minority Muslims. Now, she has become versed to write in her facebook wall “Good Morning to Assamese and Bad Morning to Bangladeshi Miya” (Miya is used as a derogatory term for the minority Muslims, though Miya means respected one) My friend Sameer does not hesitate to give a public call “Aah Oi Ulai Aah” to deport the Bangladeshi Miya. But, just before the violence in western Assam we tried to find a way out to fight the illiteracy, malnutrition, poverty of these people from a single platform. We chalked out a detail plan to make my village a self sufficient one to eradicate labor migration to urban area, install solar lamp and many other ambitious projects. As far as my memory is concerned we never felt to talk about the issue Bangladeshi Miya.
Then, why this dramatic change? Who taught them to hate the innocent minority Muslims of the state. Who amplified the fear and hatred against the these under-privileged poor people of the state. What is the ultimate motive of these hatred? If we look at the history of movement against illegal influx in the state, we found that every time it goes against the minority Muslims of the state. And significantly media played very dirty role in this aspect. Some so called intellectuals become nationalist over-night. They discover innovative ideas to harass the minority Muslims inline with the politicians. Aftermath of the violence in lower Assam one enthusiast executive editor of a so called secular Assamese daily even discovered the theory of ‘Virgin Area’ to protect his motherland! In a television show he suggested to deport the illegal Bangladeshis from the districts like Jorhat immediately. He can’t allow Jorhat to become Dhubri! Doesn’t he alternatively advocated separation of Dhubri from Assam? Every day print and electronic media publicizing the hate propaganda of the politicians, every day they are seeing lakhs of illegal Bangladeshi and trying to create atmosphere for another Assam Agitation. By any means they are trying to persuade the mainstream Assamese people that minorities are the greatest threat to their very existence.
Yes, alarm is ringing for the sleepy Assamese society to wake up and evaluate who are actually facing the threat of existence. Is it mainstream Assamese society or the corrupt politicians and their most obedient media houses? The mainstream Assamese society should not forget the black days Assam Agitation. The Nellie massacre will ashamed the Assamese forever. But what they got? Perhaps nothing more the than the secrete killing! AGP, the offspring of Assam Agitation ruled the state for ten long years, but could not see the lakhs of Bangladeshi, they couldn’t seal the Bangladesh border, they couldn’t update the NRC; for those the fought for six years, lost hundreds of their team mates and the violence killed thousands of innocent people and lakhs were displaced. And the media houses? Their expression carries some pathetic image. It seems that if they do not follow the dictation politicians their family will come to the streets! They can compromise everything to prove their existence. We may take example of G S Road molestation case or mass exodus of NE student and employees from South India. They keep spreading rumor every minutes to nurture the exodus. But they couldn’t find out who managed the special trains to NE, they couldn’t put pressure on the local government to build up confidence among the citizen of NE India, were they intentionally ignoring the dangerous conspiracy behind the exodus. Doubt coins, were they also waiting for a outburst of the anger of about fifty thousand young blood in Assam?
With due sympathy to the victims and condemning the violence by the miscreants on 28th August during Assam Bandh called by AAMSU, it is observed that the minority Muslims of the state were not taking the mainstream Assamese language media easily. The one sided decision to ban AAMSU for three months (Later it minimized to one month) by the media body fueled to maximize the trust deficit between the community and Assamese language print and electronic media. In some minority Muslim dominated areas, even people were thinking to boycott Assamese language media.
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark? Why the minorities are becoming sentimental to Assamese language media? Is it justified? Unfortunately, it seems so. It is expected that media should act pro-actively to identify the social evils and put light on the dark side of the society impartially. The media body who imposed ban on AAMSU shown no outrage over the killing of journalist Raihan Nayeem of Dhubri. The media houses in Assam are totally indifferent towards the problems of minority Muslims of the state. The ethnic cleansing in BTAD area got momentum after the statement of L K Advani. Advani may not have the knowledge about Assam and Assamese; but how the media repeated his propaganda like parrot? After the ethnic violence in western Assam thousands of migrated labor from minority dominated area are being harassed by some activists of so called apolitical groups and police as well through out the state. They are forced to flee to their native villages. Shamelessly, the media starts barking that huge numbers of illegal Bangladeshi has disappeared. They publicized thousands of illegal migrants have disappeared from relief camp of Dhubri and went to Bangladesh, though they went back to their native villages. A few days back 61 minority Muslims from Margerita and 79 from Barpeta were detained by some miscreants doubting them illegal Bangladeshi, later it was found through police verification that none of them were Bangladeshi. The media never see the misery of those construction laborers, rickshaw pullers, the thela pullers or the riot victims. Their pen dried to write the story of those poor families, their camera never reaches the darkness of illiteracy, malnutrition or child labor. But they can easily calculate the population growth of this community sitting in a air conditioned room and roars like a tiger “40 LACs have more than 90% minority Muslim voters!” They never bother about the problems of illiteracy, child marriage, population explosion. Almost one third of the minorities are char dwellers and their literacy rate is less than 20%. More than 40% girls of minority Muslims get married off before attaining maturity, more 50% family’s house hold size between 6 to 11 or more. Nobody is bothered about these facts, nobody is interested to take the challenge to overcome these social obstacles. The most easy way to ignore the problems is just terming them Bangladeshi and the responsibility get over! And most significantly, their knowledge never crosses the border to see the development trajectory of Bangladesh. The development index does not carry any possibility of mass migration to Assam. Bangladeshis socio-economic conditions are far better than the minority Muslims of the state. In 1981, Bangladesh’s average child per mother was 5.10 and in 2011 the number has decreased to 2.15, in 1991 average household size was 5.5 now it is 4.4, Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has been declined from 6.3 in 1975 to 2.5 and aiming for replacement rate within 2060. Thus Bangladeshis have been able to bring down their decadal population growth at 14% in 2011 from 22% in 1981 not by pushing their people to India. On the other hand percentage of Bangladeshi Hindu is declining sharply. In 1941, Hindus were 28% of total population of Bangladesh, now the figure has been declined to mere 10%. This crucial facts never get focused in the media our state.
Nobody is against the identification and deportation of illegal foreigners staying in the state after 25th March’1971 irrespective of religion through a legal mechanism. More over minority Muslims are more concerned over the issue and importantly it can’t be resolved without cooperating minority Muslims. Hence, media should stop discrimination against minority Muslims and should refrain from fear mongering for a healthy environment to put pressure on the government to find a way out. It is the high time for the biased media personals to introspect and and retrospect the socio-cultural fabric of Assam. Their propaganda will not work in Assam otherwise the recent violence would spread whole parts of the state.
The article featured in twocircles.net