Sunday, 29 April 2018

Immigration and demographic transformation of Assam

Susanta Krishna Dass studied the problem of immigration and demographic transformation of Assam and published a paper with the findings that:

(1) Since 1951, the rate of increase of Assam's population has been much higher than that of the country as a whole or of any state or province. But unlike in other states, this heavy increase has been due to (a) an acceleration of the natural rate of increase; (b) influx of Hindu refugees from East Pakistan; and (c) heavier migration of Indians from the rest of the country.

(2) The tremendous swelling in the number of the, Assamese speaking population during 1911-31 as a consequence of people belonging to other language groups adopting Assamese language is a unique instance of its kind.

(3) Apprehensions about the infiltration of Bangladeshi or East Pakistani Muslims into Assam appear not to be supported by facts. The fact is that while it was mainly the Bengali Muslims, motivated by economic as well as political factors, who migrated to Assam between 1891 and 1947, such migration as has taken place' since 1947, almost entirely due to political reasons, has been of Bengali Hindus.

On the specific problem of Muslim infiltration he had to say:

There is a general and widely held apprehension, both in Assam and in the rest of the country, about 'Muslim infiltration' in the state. "The frustration is further fueled by fears that in the not too distant future, they may be swamped by 'foreign nationals', mostly Muslims from Bangladesh". It is presumed that such Muslim 'infiltrators' into Assam got assimilated with the Assamese speaking population following the practice of their predecessors.

If this presumption is correct, two things must follow. First, being an addition to the bonafide Muslim, nationals living in Assam, and given their natural rate of increase which is generally higher than that of the Hindus, there should have been a steep rise in the Muslim population of Assam, at least at a rate higher than that of the Muslim population in the rest of the country. Secondly, since these are supposed to have adopted Assamese, there should have been an equally steep hike in the Assamese speaking population. It has been found above that between 1951-71, there was no hike in the Assamese speaking population and the rate of increase was quite normal in the decade 1961-71. This part of the presumption is thus not tenable.

Table 9 presents the distribution of Assam's population by religion, all other conditions remaining same as those of Table 7. The Table shows that between 1951-71, Muslim population of Assam varied almost at par with its Hindu counterpart. There was no hike. This is further confirmed by the fact that during the decade 1961-71, the Muslim population declined by --0.74 per cent of the total population of the state, the link relative rate of variation also being lower than that for the Hindus and the Christians. This, along with the slow natural rate of increase of the Assamese speaking population, shows that the apprehension of 'infiltration' of 'Bengali Muslims' between 1951-71 is not statistically
valid. An interesting corroborating factor that emerges out of Table 9 is that other than between 1911-31, the increase of the Muslim population was never higher than that of its Hindu counterpart. This tallies with the huge immigration of Bengali Muslim cultivators
that took place between 1911-31.

When the distribution of population by religion of Assam for the decade 1961-71 is compared with that of India, it is found that (i) the Hindu population of India as percentage of total population declined during this period by --0.78 per cent while that of Assam increased by 1.18 per cent; (ii) the Muslim population of India went up by 0.50 per cent while that of Assam declined by --0.74 per cent; (iii) the Christian population of Assam increased at a faster rate than that of India and (iv) rate of increase was lowest for the Muslims of Assam compared to the Hindus and the Christians. All these are evident from Table 10.

These lower figures for the Muslim population of Assam in all respects compared to those for the Indian Muslims also confirms that apprehensions about 'infiltration' of 'Bangladeshi Muslims' are not factually tenable. This also reveals that since the people opting for adoption, namely, the Bengali Muslims, have become scarce, the Assamese language has failed to swell since 1951.

Source: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 15, No. 19 (May 10, 1980), pp. 850-859

Friday, 7 April 2017

Law relating to cow slaughter in Assam

They have started cow vigilatism in Assam also. According to a report, three people, including a minor, were arrested from Jorhat town in Assam on April 4 for carrying beef and thereby hurting the religious sentiments of some people. The first incident is by police in the name of law enforcement. But there are concerns that the private groups of vigilantes may start to go on the rampage like in the states of North India.

So, it is better to have a look at the law relating to cow slaughter in Assam.

In North East India there is no law prohibiting or regulating cow slaughter in the states of Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tripura and Nagaland.

But not in Assam. In the state there is a state legislation called the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 that prohibits slaughter of certain types of cattle. The Act defines “cattle” as `Bulls, bullocks, cows, calves, male and female buffaloes and buffalo calves. Section 5 provides that the cattle can only be slaughtered on a certificate of ‘fit for slaughter’ given by a veterinary officer for the area if cattle is over 14 years of age or has become permanently incapacitated for work or breeding due to injury, deformity or any incurable disease and according to section 6 such cattle can be slaughtered only in places specified for this purpose. The offence under the Act may attract punishment of imprisonment up to maximum of 6 months or fine of up to Rs 1,000 or both and it is a cognisable offence.

However, section 13 empowers the state government to to impose, exempt from the operation of this Act, the slaughter of any cattle for any religious, ceremonial, medical research or any other purposes. It also states that “the operation of the Act will not be applicable to the slaughter of any cattle on the occasion of Id-uz-Zuha festival on such conditions as the State Government may specify regarding privacy”.

It is obvious that the Act does not absolutely prohibit slaughter of cow. It only regulates cattle slaughter. But the provisions are vulnerable to be misused. The problem is that they don't much care for the laws. The law nowhere prohibits carrying and eating of beef.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Muslim women voting for Yogi Adityanath should be the last nail in the coffin of triple talaq

It is claimed that many Muslim women in UP voted for Yogi Adityanath's BJP. Yes, the Yogi whose supporters, in his presence, asked Hindus to excavate graves of Muslim women and rape their dead bodies. They voted him, it is said, because Adityanath promised to protect them from the scrouge of triple talaq.

If there is even an iota of truth in this claim it should have dealt a huge blow along the spine, if they have any, of the community compelling them to seriously work on the issue of triple talaq and other laws and practices oppressive and unjust to women.

I don't see any reasons to disbelief this claim as something similar happened during the first part of 20th century. This was before passing of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. Muslim law as it was practised at that time didn't provide for ways to get rid of husbands even if it was not possible for the women to continue to live with their husbands except by committing suicide, or becoming apostate. The later was far more easier as Christian missionaries also came to their rescue. Women only need to utter some words declaring their unbelief of Islam. Muftis would declare them apostate and consequently their marriages dissolved. Women increasingly resrted to this device.

This dealt a huge blow to the Muslim leaders and intellectuals of the time. The philosopher and poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal led a campaign for reforms of relevant parts of the Muslim law forcing a conservative Deobandi Mufti like Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi to revise the laws/fatwas. In 1931, after several years of extensive consultations with muftis in India and abroad, he published a long fatwa entitled "al-Hilat al-Najiza li'l-Halilat al-'Ajiza" (A Successful Legal Device for the Helpless Wife). In the revised fatwa, Maulana Thanvi argued that apostasy did not annul the marriage contract and could not be used as a legal device. He agreed that judicial divorce might be used to provide relief to Hanafi Muslim women, invoking Maliki doctrine in support of this point. (See Muhammad Khalid Masud, "Islamic Legal Interpretation: Muftis and Their Fatwas" (Harvard University Press, 1996) Chapter Sixteen, pp. 193-203.)

This booklet provided the basis of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. The Act provides for ten grounds for Muslim women to obtain a decree of the dissolution of marriage from a court of law. A decree for dissolving marriage made avaialable for the reasons that for a term of four years the particulars about the husband are unknown, the woman has been abandoned by the husband or he failed to provide maintenance for the woman for a term of two years, the husband has married another woman contravening the provisions of Muslim Family laws Ordinance, 1961, the husband has been subject to imprisonment for a term of seven years or more etc., the nonperformance of marital obligations, impotency, insanity, leprosy, virulent venereal disease, cruelty etc. or any other legal causes can be taken as ground for getting divorce. This Act is still in force.

It is obvious that this time there is no Muslim intellectual who has the courage to follow the foot steps of Allama Iqbal and lead a campaign and force the likes of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi to revisit the laws and abolish triple talaq and polygamy.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Assam: Farce of NRC updation may lead millions to statelessness

Updating process of NRC (National Register of Citizens) is going on in Assam. Those who have their names in 1951 NRC, any electoral rolls issued upto 1971 or any other of the 14 documents mentioned in application form are eligible to be included in the updated NRC.

Parts of 1951 NRC and some electoral rolls of pre-1971 period have been made available online and termed "legacy data".

The NRC which is under preparation is not a new NRC. It is an updating process of 1951 NRC which was prepared on the basis of census data of 1951. However, section 15 of the Census Act, 1948 says that records of census are not admissible in evidence notwithstanding anything contrary in the India Evidence Act, 1872. Moreover, 1951 NRC data for many areas of the state are not available. Not prepared at all or subsequently destroyed.

Not all electoral rolls upto 1971 are available. Only electoral rolls of 1966 and 1971 have been made available online. But they also don't cover the whole of Assam. For many areas electoral roll of 1966 is not available.
Legacy data for the districts of the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills, the Naga Hills and the Mizo Hills, which were part of Assam until they were separated in 1972 are not made available.

Apart from variations in spelling of the names and other anomalies in legacy data it has now came to light that names of many people are not found. Adivasi organisations are claiming that around 80% of their people does not have names in legacy data while authorities says that only about 10% does not have. My guesstimate is that about 20% of people of all communities may not find their names in legacy data.

The other 14 documents that can be submitted must be pre-1971 origin. How can one accept that poor people of villages in this flood affected state to preserve their pre-1971 papers. Assam is the state with highest IDPs in the world. Then, there are lakhs of landless and homeless people.

This farce of updation of NRC based on an inadmissible document, if carried to its conclusion and is taken as the basis of citizenship, may drive about 20% of about 31 million people to statelessness.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Supreme Court diecrtives regarding arrest of accused by police for offences punishable with seven years imprisonment or less

Supreme Court Guidelines regarding arrests of the accused by the police in cases punishable with 7 years imprisonment or less issued Arnesh Kumar Vs. State of Bihar and Another (Criminal Appeal No. 1277 of 2014):

1.All the State Governments to instruct its police officers not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498-A of the IPC is registered but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters laid down above flowing from Section 41Cr.PC;

2. All police officers be provided with a check list containing specified sub- clauses under Section 41(1)(b)(ii);

3. The police officer shall forward the check list duly filed and furnish the reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest, while forwarding/producing the accused before the Magistrate for further detention;

4. The Magistrate while authorising detention of the accused shall peruse the report furnished by the police officer in terms aforesaid and only after recording its satisfaction, the Magistrate will authorise detention;

5. The decision not to arrest an accused, be forwarded to the Magistrate within two weeks from the date of the institution of the case with a copy to the Magistrate which may be extended by the Superintendent of police of the district for the reasons to be recorded in writing;

6. Notice of appearance in terms of Section 41A of Cr.PC be served on the accused within two weeks from the date of institution of the case, which may be extended by the Superintendent of Police of the District for the reasons to be recorded in writing;

7. Failure to comply with the directions aforesaid shall apart from rendering the police officers concerned liable for departmental action, they shall also be liable to be punished for contempt of court to be instituted before High Court having territorial jurisdiction.

8. Authorising detention without recording reasons as aforesaid by the judicial Magistrate concerned shall be liable for departmental action by the appropriate High Court.

9. We hasten to add that the directions aforesaid shall not only apply to the cases under Section 498-A of the I.P.C. or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, the case in hand, but also such cases where offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may be less than seven years or which may extend to seven years; whether with or without fine.

10. We direct that a copy of this judgment be forwarded to the Chief Secretaries as also the Director Generals of Police of all the State Governments and the Union Territories and the Registrar General of all the High Courts for onward transmission and ensuring its compliance.