The persecution of Muslims exceeded all possible levels in Assam led by Himanta Biswa Sarma. The news about the Muslims themselves demolishing a madrasa in Goalpara is the latest.
This time neither the police nor the local authorities need to think of a “reasonable” excuse to justify the demolition (such as the structure being fragile and unsafe, etc.) as they did in the previous three cases. The police said that “residents voluntarily destroyed the madrasa and the adjacent shelters, which they resent the activities of ‘Jihadi’.”
The media headlined it as the first self-inflicted demolition of a madrassa in the hope that it would be the beginning of Muslims living in other parts of Assam as they yearn for it themselves. etc. to prove that they are not Jihadists. or supporters of ‘jihad’. It will also save money and effort that the nation has to invest in such demolition. After that, Muslims will be asked to be good enough to identify the ‘jihadis’ hiding in the community as ‘sleeper cells’ and hand them over to the police.
In fact, it has already been done. Sarma asked the Muslims of the region to inform the police if a foreign imam comes to their area. All Muslims ‘out there’ are suspect, and it is the duty of the Muslim community to be free from them.
Earlier, within a month, the Cassam administration destroyed three madrasas in different districts of the region. One of the reasons given for the destruction of Madrasah Markazul Ma-Arif Quariana in Bongaigaon district of Assam is that it was not prepared for disasters. Of course, the regional government is concerned about the safety of Muslims in Cassam!
But these were clearly an excuse to cover up the courts. The Assam chief minister made it clear when he said that such destruction will continue until such institutions are used for “anti-national” activities. He said, “Our aim is to see that they do not use ‘jihadi’ elements. If madrasas are not used for ‘jihad’ activities, there is no need to demolish them.”
‘Jihadi’ movements are difficult to define legally, but the term has a strong hold on the minds of members of the Bharatiya Janata Party. ‘Jihaadi’ is one of the titles used by the state administration to insult the Muslims of Assam, of which there are many, let’s think of three.
They were first framed as terrorists – ‘jihadists’ to be precise and not any other form of terrorism. Secondly, they are seen as illegal encroachers and immigrants who plague the lands of Assam and turn the “Native Assamese” into landless peasants. Finally, even if they do not tick the above two boxes, they are considered dishonest and a threat to the Assamese culture, and their integrity is often questioned.
The figure of ‘jihadi’ draws popular attention on how to think of the Muslim body, something that the current government has used time and time again to justify its hatred of Muslims in Assam. Not long ago, with the Assam Repeal Act, 2020, government funding for madrassa education was abolished. This Act violates several constitutional protections (Article 26, Article 29, Article 30, Article 330A and Article 330B) especially for the minorities of India. This act is proof of institutional destruction of madrasas in Assam. It is no wonder that this government has not hesitated in its actions, especially when it comes to clearing even the basic rights of the minorities in the state.
One will also recall, the Assam Cattle Protection Act, 2021 which regulates the slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle in the state. While supporting the law, the Assam Chief Minister noted that the responsibility of maintaining harmony also rests with the Muslim and this law will increase the strength of harmony, he added. Now, it must be said that this Act also prohibits slaughter within five kilometers of a temple, satra, and any other institution prescribed by the authorities.
It actually empowers the government to ban Muslims everywhere from slaughtering animals as well as eating meat. We know that you can build a mosque anywhere, even in areas where Muslims live. The pleasure you get from changing the eating habits of society is in another class. This is what Sarma is giving to the Hindu people.
When Congressman Sherman Ali proposed the idea of a Miya community museum, he was publicly threatened by many, including Sarma. The minister said, “Sherman Ali Ahmed will be sent to prison after the election.” He will be sent to jail because he said lungis should be kept at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra.” That is the nature of political sentiment when it comes to Muslims in Assam.
A lot of violent actions
It is clear that there is a good attack against the Muslims in different sections. The regular eviction process involves multiple targeting methods. Moinul Haque was brutally killed last year in one such incident. The minister justified it as an “act of revenge” for the alleged massacre of Hindu Axomiyas.
Such acts of displacement have only received frequency. They no longer grab the headlines. To make matters worse, it is said that Muslims own property in more than one place. Why else do they quietly accept their eviction and move away from the place of eviction? The regional government has announced that they have prepared the land freed from foreigners to develop the region. People understood the meaning.
One of the main controversies in the path of expulsion is the encroachment of satra land which is owned by various Vaishnavite bodies in the state. It is a well-known fact that the Vaishnavite institutions and the Assam government have always been historical friends, and “Bangladesh” is the mutual enemy of this friendship. Famous gifts have been exchanged in the past and these are still the result of a strong relationship that never stops insulting the Muslims living in the government.
Destroying madrassas is the latest form of targeting Muslims. We know that madrasahs provide shelter and food to poor Muslims. Attacking them, the Assam chief minister invites other Muslims to reject them. But somewhere in their hearts, they know it is about the image of a Muslim. All Muslims, if they were to look at it religiously, are potential ‘Jihadists’.
Now, even their privacy is increasingly violated. But in order to prove that they are loyal to the government and that they belong to it, they must find someone outside of them who surrenders to the government. By forming part of the indigenous Muslims, Sarma showed the way by destroying the foundations, customs and structures of the society.
The legalization of such segregation began in the National process Register of Citizens (NRC), which was launched mainly to create people outside of officialdom. Now it continues in a new way: ‘criminals’ who can be shot and killed, ‘outsiders’ to be identified and isolated, ‘jihadists’ to be eliminated. Now, the onus is on Muslims. If they protest against what is done to them, they prove that they are dishonest, disloyal, ungrateful and ungrateful to the government that is doing it all for good. They are asked to accept the rank of servitude. There is no sign of anger from the majority of society.
Apoorvanand teaches Hindi at Delhi University. Suraj Gogoi is an assistant professor at the School of Arts and Sciences, RV University, Bengaluru @char_chapori.
The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect or represent their organization.