Muslim Appeasement in Assam
* Saikia Whips up Pro-Muslim Image to counter "Jihad"
GUWAHATI - SHOCKED and humiliated by a Jihad, declared against him by
the Assam unit of Jamit-Ulama-e-Hind, state chief minister,
Mr.Hiteshwar Saikia has taken to whipping up a pro-Muslim image for
himself and his three-year-old government, with a massive rally
organised here to diffuse the powerful Muslim religious body.
The Jihad of the Jamiat was declared in July as part of the
state Jamiat unit's six week long campaign seeking to oust Saikia Govt for
its alleged failure to protect the religious minorities during the
riots in Barpeta and Kokrajhar districts.
An over-enthusiastic Saikia, who was chief guest in the
convention on the minority cell of the Pradesh Congress committee, not
only agreed to concede to all the 20 demands of Muslims, but went a
step ahead be declaring that his Government would not oppose any demand
for inclusion of muslims in the backward class list.
The Assam government would soon constitute a separate minority
cell for development of the religious minorities.
Mr.Saikia, who was hailed and greeted as a champion of the
Muslims especially Madrassa teachers, arrived in bus-loads from several
lower assam and central Assam districts.
The government would provide jobs to one member of each muslim
family affected during the Barpeta killings, he announced. The muslims
have demanded grants of rs 1 lakh each to every person killed in the
Meanwhile, the Jamiat leader has accused Mr.Saikia of
soliciting votes of muslims before elections by making false promises.
He has openly declared that Jamiat fold, had discarded Mr.Saikia soon
after the 1991 elections, and said the AGP government was far better as
there were no incidents of massacre of minorities during its rule.
The rally was also aimed at silencing the dissidents within the
state congress, with Zehirul Islam, often projected as an acceptable
alternative to Mr.Saikia.
Islam has been projected by a section of anti-Saikia
Congressmen as a non-controversial Muslim leader who could fill up the
post of Chief Minister. He is a senior minister in the Saikia cabinet.