By Nekibur Zaman
Given the fact that a couple of days back, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by Maula Badaruddin Ajmal burnt my effigy in Tezpur, I don’t need to make my stand clear again. The people of the State know me well since three decades. Still, I would like to raise a few questions here.
Recently, AIUDF supremo Badaruddin Ajmal made an appeal to the Muslims (?) of the State to unite. I fail to understand what necessitated him to make this appeal. Ajmal in the appeal said that after Prime Minister rendra Modi’s visit to the State, all the Hindus (?) have united and so the Muslims should unite. But, we all know that rendra Modi didn’t make any public appeal to the Hindus to unite. I persolly know many Hindus who are dead against the BJP’s Hindutva ideology guided by the RSS. Since, there was no public appeal by Modi in this regard, I would like to ask Ajmal from where did he get this information? Was it Modi who said this to Ajmal? Is Ajmal having any secret understanding with the BJP that he came to know something which is not available in the public domain? Will Ajmal dare to reply to this?
Ajmal often claims to represent the minorities of Assam. I would like to ask him, who are the minorities according to him? Does he represent the Gorias, Morias and other ethnic Muslim communities of the State who have an 800 year old history? Who made him leader of the entire Muslim community? For me and I believe most ethnic Muslims, Ajmal and his party AIUDF is just like any other political party in the State — and the ethnic Muslims don’t see him as the leader of the community. What is Badaruddin Ajmal’s contribution towards the development and addressing the concerns of 42 lakh indigenous Muslims in the State? He has never raised a single question in Parliament or the State Assembly about the plight of indigenous Muslims. His concern is unfortutely limited to the Sylheti Muslims and the Muslims from East Bengal. So, before claiming to be the leader of all Muslims in Assam, Ajmal should come clear on this.
As assembly elections are fast approaching, political parties with commul agendas are trying to polarize votes on the lines of Hindus versus Muslims. The BJP is trying to wipe out the contribution of ethnic Muslims starting from Azan Fakir, Bagh Hazarika etc. The AIUDF is trying to play the Muslim card. But none will succeed. People of Assam see Shankar and Azan as one. For us, Lachit Borphukan and Bagh Hazarika both were sons of motherland Assam. If somebody is thinking of polarizing votes of Assam on religious lines, then he is living in a fool’s paradise.
Since independence, ethnic Muslims in Assam (numbering around 42 lakh presently) have been victims of discrimition. Unlike immigrant Muslims, they are scattered throughout the State in small numbers. No doubt they are the deciding factor in around 30 constituencies, but they don’t have a single representative in the State Assembly. The tag of religious minority is not a blessing for the ethnic Muslims of Assam. For example — most of the funds that come for the development of minority people never reach the ethnic Muslims. And till date, none of the political parties have addressed this major issue.
I persolly appeal to all political parties to come clear on the issues of ethnic Muslims. It is high time to safeguard us. Infiltrators are about to occupy centre-stage in Assam, leaving us completely margilised.
(The author is an eminent lawyer and the Chairman of Wakf Board, Assam)