Assam’s proposed ‘Khilonjiya Muslim Development Corporation’ will now be called the ‘Goriya, Moriya, Deshi and Julha Development Corporation’. The proposal was put forth after a three-hour-long meeting of the Assam government’s Welfare of Minorities and Development Department with various representatives of Assam’s Muslim communities on Tuesday, confirmed Assam’s Welfare of Minorities Minister Ranjit Dutta.
“The words ‘khilonjiya’ and ‘Muslim’ will be omitted and replaced with the names of the specific communities: Goriya, Moriya, Deshi, and Julha,” said Dutta. The corporation was listed as part of the Assam Budget 2019-2020. The census of the specifically mentioned communities will take place as per plan.
“This was proposed because there is a lot of controversy around the term ‘khilonjiya’ or ‘indigenous’. And since it is not well-defined, other groups also might claim ‘khilonjiya’ status in the census,” said Dutta.
While the Goriyas, Moriyas primarily hail from Upper Assam and Deshis from Lower Assam, the Julha Muslims are known to be migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. “But the Julhas we are specifically looking at in this census are the Julhas who belong to the tea tribes and primarily reside in Golaghat and Jorhat,” Dutta said.
Syed Muminul Aowal, Assam Minorities Development Board chairman, said: “We have proposed that the census be carried out by the Revenue department, with the assistance of the Welfare of Minorities and Development department and the Home department.”
“The method for identification to carry out the survey will be discussed soon,” said Aowal, adding that “the social identity of Goriyas and Moriyas can be determined by the language they speak and the places they reside in.”
The meeting on Tuesday was represented by various organisations but the dominant one was the All Assam Goriya Moriya Deshi Parishad. “More than the developmental schemes the government will give us, we are more interested in earning a legitimate identification through this process, considering our identity has always been ambiguous,” said Azizul Rahman, general secretary of the All Assam Goriya Moriya Deshi Parishad. He added that apart from Goriya, Moriya, Deshi and Julha representatives, a “few groups from Barak Valley districts who are ‘indigenous’” were all present in the meeting.
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