Silchar: The newly floated Greater Muslim Society (GMS) at a public meeting convened today in the Madhurband area of this town has come out with the demand that since the Silchar Lok Sabha seat is general and so long claimed by the Dev family, in the ensuing Parliamentary election, they want to project Maulana Ataur Rahman Mazarbhuiya, former MLA and also a switch over candidate from AIUDF to Congress, as their candidate. Anwar Ahmed Laskar, general secretary of Silchar district Congress committee, who presided over the meeting, said, “Since Independence, this Lok Sabha seat has been held by the members of Dev family. Now, the Muslims want change and an end to the dominance of Devs.”
Sontosh Mohan Dev held his seat 7 times and now his daughter Sushmita Dev is the sitting MP. She wants to be the candidate in this Lok Sabha election. Anwar Ahmed Laskar made it clear if she again claims to be the candidate, Muslims will not support her. They will rather prefer to vote either for AGP or any Independent candidate. Significantly, at this meeting, some leaders of AIUDF and AGP were also present, besides the minority and block Congress leaders. The signal emanating from this meet is of significance as another speaker said, “Muslims have always been exploited as vote-bank by Congress leaders. We are now politically conscious and educated and cannot allow it any more to happen.”
The Silchar Lok Sabha seat, as record shows, was held once by a Muslim candidate Rashida Haque Choudhury, wife of the most influential leader of Congress and also a central and state minister Moinul Haque Choudhury. Before and after that, no Muslim woman has ever been a candidate from this seat. Muslims constitute around 42% of the total votes on this prestigious seat, claimed Anwar Ahmed Laskar. He also put the figure of the votes of their community at 4.5 lakh. Though Silchar is a Hindu majority seat, Muslims are a decisive factor. If Muslims are united and the Hindu votes get split, the victory of Ataur Rahman Mazarbhuiya cannot be ruled out.
Sabir Ahmed Barlaskar, convener of the Society, made yet another remarkable observation, “The days are gone when Muslims used to be guided by the instructions of mullahs and maulvis. They are well aware of their rights and privileges to decide and take the decision in the larger interest of the community.” Another thing that has gone to anger the minority community is the stand of Sushmita Dev on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Though in Parliament she protested against the Bill, outside she has been repeating she favours the Bill not on the humanitarian ground but on the basis of religion which can hardly be accepted, pointed out Anwar Ahmed Laskar.
The meeting gave out the message that no development fund has gone for the benefit of the minority community of Cachar district as a whole. It was also made clear if Muslims are united to vote against, Sushmita Dev will face the waterloo as her father Sontosh Mohan Dev had to eat a humble pie in the Parliamentary election of 1998. Anwar Ahmed Laskar said a delegation of the Society would meet All India Congress Committee at Delhi and Assam Pradesh Congress Committee at Guwahati to campaign and impress the leaders for their cause.