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Assamese Muslims harassed, jailed, on citizenship issue

New Delhi:  Poor Assamese Muslims are facing arrest on the mere doubt of being either Bangladeshi or Myanmar citizens. When people complained to the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), it expressed its anxiety to the Union Home Ministry as well as to the government of Assam and asked them to intervene in the matter. A member of NCM, Farida Abdulla Khan, paid a visit to Assam recently where she heard this complaint from people. She came to know that only on doubt, 97 women and 13 children were put into Kokrajhar district jail, flouting laws of the land. According to the commission, people are put in detention centres instead of jails in such cases, but here this rule was not followed.

Local officers said that Kokrajhar has no detention centre, hence women and children are kept in  jail alongwith criminals. Farida Khan said that in Assam, 600 people have been detained on suspicion of being Bangldeshi or Myanmari citizens, a large number of these are Muslims. She added that many of those arrested are very poor and have no means to defend themselves legally.

On the other hand, Jamiat Ulama Assam is engaged in a legal battle for the right to vote for lakhs of Muslims who have been labeled as “doubtful voters” by the government. The Jamiat vehemently insists that they neither belong to Bangladesh nor Myanmar, but they are Indians, and many of them have proofs with them, while some of them lack proofs as they have lost all their belongings during floods or riots.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2016 on page no. 14

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