Bengalli Muslims must give up child marriage, polygamy: Assam CM

Guwahati: Assam chief minister Hemant Biswa Sarma who on Sunday launched election campaign in Western Assam for Lok Sabha candidates of his allies said that Bengali-speaking Muslim migrants should give up the practices of child marriage and polygamy if they desires to be recognised as indigenous to the state.

Responding to a claim of an AIUDF legislator and candidate for Lok Sabha on Miyan being indigenous to the state, Mr Sarma said, “Whether ‘Miyas’ (Bengali-speaking Muslims) are indigenous or not is a different matter. What we are saying is that if they try to be ‘indigenous’, we have no problem. But for that, they have to give up child marriage and polygamy, and encourage women education.”

Arguing that the Assamese people have a culture in which girls are compared to ‘shakti’ (goddess), and marrying two-three times is not an Assamese culture, he said, “Instead of sending your children to madrassas, educate them to become doctors and engineers if you want to be called indigenous.”

He went on saying that they should also start sending their daughters to schools and give them the right over their fathers’ properties.

“These are the differences between them and the indigenous people of the state. If they can give up these practices and imbibe the culture of Assamese people, at some point of time they too can become indigenous,” said Mr Sarma who had also previously held the Bengali-speaking Muslim community of the state, most of whom have roots in Bangladesh, responsible for these social evils.

According to the 2011 census, Muslims account for over 34 percent of Assam’s total population, with the majority ( about 63 percent ) being Bengali-speaking.

It is significant that in 2022, around 40 lakh Assamese-speaking Muslims were recognised as “indigenous Assamese Muslims” and a sub-group of the greater native Assamese community.

The cabinet-approved ‘indigenous’ Assamese Muslims, who do not have any history of migration from Bangladesh, comprise five groups – Goria, Moria, Jolah (only the ones living in tea gardens), Desi and Syed (only the Assamese-speaking).


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