GUWAHATI: The Assam government will carry out a headcount exercise of people belonging to certain Muslim communities, similar to the population census.
The state’s Welfare of Minorities and Development Department on Tuesday convened a meeting with some Muslim organisations and other stakeholders and finalised the plan.
Official sources said the proposed census was not aimed at finding out if people belonging to the communities in question are “Khilonjia” (indigenous).
“Initially, the plan was to identify the state’s indigenous Muslims. However, the organisations, which attended the meeting, suggested that the exercise should be community-based and not religion-based,” the state’s Minority Development Board chairman, Mominul Aowal, told this newspaper.
He said the survey would cover communities such as Goria, Moria, Deshi and Jola.
“The Budget declaration had made mention of a community called Ujani. It has been removed from the scheme of things as it is similar to Deshi community. Similarly, the Syed community is similar to Goria and hence it has been removed,” Awal said.
He said they had suggested to the state government to exclude the Maimal community of southern Assam’s Barak Valley. The government will separately think of the Maimals as well as Pangal and Kachari Muslims of Barak Valley, he said.
“The state’s Home, Revenue and Minorities Development Department will be involved in the entire house-to-house exercise. There will be some members from the organisations which attended Tuesday’s meeting. Through the census, families and people will be listed,” Awal explained.
Some minority organisations such as opposition party All India United Democratic Front and All Assam Minority Students’ Union had on Monday criticised the state government. They alleged the move to identify “indigenous Muslims” was a ploy to divide the state’s Muslims.