Assam: Distance makes little difference in discrimination

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi,,

Guwahati: It hardly matters whether you are living in the heart of the state capital of Assam or 50 or 100 kms away from it. If you are a Muslim, discrimination will follow you everywhere. The Muslim-dominated localities generally have no pucca road, no water supply system and no or very poor health and electricity facility.

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The Muslim-dominated Dharanda locality in the main town Six Mile area of the state capital Dispur has no access to urban water supply system. The roads in lanes and bylanes are in very poor condition. The situation is poorer in Matghoria village in the same Dispur Assembly constituency. The villagers in Tukrapara village in Chaygaon constituency, about 60 km from Dispur, are crying for the same. This village is also facing poor health facility. A little farther in Nellie village in minority dominated Nagaon district, 75 km from Dispur, situation is worse. Besides common problems, they are also facing D-voter issue. Hundreds of Muslims here are listed as D-voters or doubtful voters because their citizenship is yet to be verified.

Tukrapara village, Chaygaon in Assam

“There is no urban water supply in this Muslim-dominated locality. The road inside the Mohalla is not good,” says Shamim Ahmed Laskar in Dharanda, Six Mile, Dispur.

About 2 km from the main Dispur, there is Matghoria village, about 150 metre above the main road. The village has 200-250 homes of Muslims. The road linking the village from the city is not pucca there is no water supply system and electricity has also not reached here, says a villager.

When we move out of the city, we find conditions in Muslim-dominated areas little different. Zahida Perween in Tukrapara village in Chaygaon constituency about 60 km from Dispur says the road linking the village to main Chaygaon town about 20 kms away is not pucca. Every year they make road and every year it falls apart. There is no water supply and very poor electricity while for a large area there is just one health centre and there too doctor does not come on duty with punctuality, says Perween, an MA and B.Ed. from Guwahati University.

Matghoria village falls in Dispur constituency.

In the unfortunate Nellie village (which witnessed killing of over 2000 Muslims in 1983) in Nagaon district, 75 km from Dispur, there is still no concrete road. For 10 thousand people in Nellie and neighboring 7 villages there is no primary health centre and no pacca road. Villagers have to walk for 4-5 km to reach a health centre, says Haji Serajuddin. He also points out a big issue — D-voters or doubtful voters. Hundreds of Muslims here have been listed as D-voters.

Hafiz Ahmed, advisory editor, Ganadhikar, Assamese daily while elaborating on the issues and problems confronting the Muslim community in Assam says the major problems are: Security, education, economy and internal displacement due to communal riots.

Thousands of Muslims affected by communal riots in last three decades are still living in relief camps. They are yet to be compensated and rehabilitated, says Ahmed.