Kokrajhar: Will it lose official status of minority district?

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi,

New Delhi: Many people, even some of those who are visiting Assam on fact-finding mission following the recent violence, do not know that Kokrajhar is a Minority Concentration District (MCD). It is in the Government of India’s national list of 90 MCDs in the country. But the three days of bloody violence, which forced lakhs of Muslims to leave Kokrajhar last month, has endangered the very status of the district.

It has been propagated that Kokrajhar has some thousand illegal Bangladeshi Muslim migrants who have been pushed out of the district boundary by the Bodos. It is not fact. Bengali speaking Muslims here are in lakhs and bonafide residents who are well documented in the Census 2001 and the electoral lists followed, and on the basis of which, central government has declared it a minority district.

According to the Census 2001, the total population of Kokrajhar district is 9,05,764, of which minority (Muslims) are 3,10,418, that is 34.27% of the district population. On the basis of this huge Muslim population, Kokrajhar was enlisted as MCD by the Government of India seven years ago, and then like other MCDs in the country, the centrally funded billion-rupee Multi-sectoral Development Program (MsDP) is being run in the district.

Kokrajhar is an ‘A’ Category MCD. Under this category come those MCDs which have both socio-economic and basic amenities indicators below national average. There are 12 such MCDs in Assam:


Assam has also one B category MCD - North Cachar Hills. B category has either socio-economic or basic amenities below national average.

Kokrajhar Muslims whose houses were burnt down and are now living in a relief camp

The recent violence which claimed over 80 persons in last 20 days has rendered homeless over four lakh people, mostly Muslims from Kokrajhar, and they are now in relief camps in neighboring districts. According to the official data of Assam government released in the last week of July 2012, some 2,66,700 Muslims have become homeless. It is said most of them are from Kokrajhar. It means that out of 3.10 lakh Muslim population in Kokrajhar, about 2 lakh or over have been pushed out of the district, threatening the very minority status of the district.

Meanwhile, reports say Bodos have announced they will not allow these Muslims to enter their village without genuine documents. Tragic. First they were pushed out, their households looted and burnt and now they are demanded documents of citizenship. Those who have visited relief camps say almost all left their home in one dress to save their life leaving all belongings behind.

As these people are listed in Census 2001 and electoral lists, it will be easy for the authorities to check their credentials if honestly they want to. If there is a politics behind all these clashes and a bogey of Bangladeshi has been created for that purpose, then the future of lakhs of homeless Muslims is simply bleak.

Kokrajhar Muslims whose houses were burnt down and are now living in a relief camp

Informed people say that Bodo Territorial Council has areas with three-fourth non-Bodo population – and the overwhelming majority of non-Bodos are Muslims. But both BTC and its Legislative Assembly have Bodos as representatives except 2-3 Muslims. This is because most of the seats have been reserved for Bodos seeing the majority of voters are non-Bodos. This fact casts aspersion about the idea behind BTC. In the wake of the huge exodus, said to be biggest in free India following a communal/ethnic violence, it is being demanded that BTC should be dismantled or restructured for proportionate representation.

Courtesy: www.TwoCircles.net


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