MUMBAI – A group of Muslim NGOs have condemned the recent violence in Assam and Uttar Pradesh in a meeting in Mumbai, terming the ongoing killing of Muslims in Assam as “planned ethnic cleansing.”
The state government of Tarun Gogoi has “virtually failed to protect its innocent citizens,” the meeting NGOs said, TwoCircles.net website reported on Friday, July 27.
Held in Mumbai, Thursday’s meeting was attended by Mahmood Ahmad Khan Daryabadi, general secretary All India Ulama Council, Burhanuddin Qasmi, director Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre and Farid Shaikh, president Mumbai Aman Committee.
It was also attended by Dr Azimuddin, president Movement for Human Welfare and Haroon Muzawala, Trustee Khair-e Ummat Trust.
Sectarian violence erupted last Friday after four youths were killed by unidentified men in the isolated Kokrajhar district.
In retaliation, armed men from Bodo tribes attacked Muslims for suspicion of being behind the killings.
Clashes spread to the neighboring Chirang and Dhubri districts over the weekend, leaving at least 22 people dead.
Thousands of people were also left homeless as their villages were set on fire in the violence.
Surrounded by China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, Assam is home to more than 200 ethnic and tribal groups and has been racked by separatist revolts since India's independence from Britain in 1947.
In recent years, Hindu and Christian tribes have vented strong sentiments against Muslims, calling them Bangladeshi immigrants.
The Muslim leaders also condemned branding Bengali speaking Indian citizens as “illegal immigrants or Bangladeshi settlers”.
“Tagging Indian citizens who have been living in Assam for centuries as illegal immigrants or Bangladeshi settlers" is "most unfortunate."
A similar message was employed by a group of Muslim MPs, demanding central intervention to end the ongoing ethnic clashes in lower Assam.
"There is failure somewhere," Congress leader K Rahman Khan said after meeting home minister P Chidambaram.
“We have lost confidence in the state government's ability to control violence and demanded central intervention.”
His remarks come amid reports that it was the Centre that had first alerted Assam about the first incident, which eventually became a full-blown crisis resulting in deaths of at least 42 people in the past seven days.
"District administration appeared to sit quietly till a strong missive went to the state from the home ministry", said an official, adding it was strange that the 'incidents' which saw killing of two Muslims and four Bodos did not wake up the local police administration.
Muslims account for 160 million of India's 1.1 billion people, the world's third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.