A group of academicians and writers has issued a public statement condemning FIRs against ten people, including Miyah poets and other activists, over a poem titled "Write it down, I am a Miyah."
The statement termed the FIR an attempt to "malign and criminalise the Miyah poets". It urges the government to enable the writers to "to speak and write freely without fear of fear, harm or intimidation."
The statement further reads, "The criminalisation of any poetry marks the death of a healthy, democratic and humane society that we want Assam to be. In this context, we see Miyah poetry as a legitimate form of literary protest against the victimisation of Bengal-origin Muslims of Assam."
Miyah poetry, written by Bengali Muslims who have settled in the riverine plains of the Brahmaputra in Assam, has been the subject of much media attention in recent times. The poetry seeks to give voice to discrimination and prejudice faced by the community, and has become increasingly relevant in the context of the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam.
According to The Wire, the complainant in this case is a Guwahati-based journalist named Pranabjit Doloi. His complaint alleges that the poem attempted to show Assamese people as "xenophobic in the eyes of the whole world which is a threat to the security of the nation in general and Assam in particular". The poem has been written by Hafiz Ahmed.
In response to the FIR, the poets had written a clarification, in which they said, "A huge majority of the Miyah poems are written in Assamese, some in English and Hindi and a handful of local dialects." They also pointed out that four of the ten people named in the FIR are researchers who have completed or are in the process of completing their PhDs in Assamese language and literature.
The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on the intervening night of 31 December, 2017 and 1 January, 2018 in accordance with the Supreme Court's direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then. The final list is scheduled to be released on 31 July.
Assam, which had faced an influx of people from present-day Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jul 21, 2019 22:29:59 IST