Amid anti-CAA protests, Muslims in MP’s Neemuch refuse to show documents
Amid protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Muslims in Neemuch and adjoining districts in Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh are refusing to show their Aadhar and other identity cards to government personnel during an ongoing survey for ration cards and food eligibility slips, say officials.
Neemuch is situated in Malwa region on the MP-Rajasthan border, 428 kilometers North West of Bhopal. The population of Neemuch is about 1.28 lakh according to the 2011 census out of whom about 30000 are Muslims.
The survey began on December 31 and would go on more than a month during which each anganwadi worker has to contact as many as 150 families to verify the ration cards with the government records.
An anganwadi assistant in Neemuch, Veena Pathrod said, “When we go into Muslim-dominated localities they don’t show their ration cards. They don’t show their aadhar cards and voter I-cards as well with help of which we could verify the credentials of the ration cards and food eligibility slips holders.”
She said, “The fear among them is that such information as on the cards may be used against them and they may be deprived of their citizenship in the coming days. Even when we persuade them that nothing is going to happen like this they don’t believe us. They refuse to share any information.”
Haji Bhura Qureshi, a resident of Madhavganj locality in Neemuch said, ”Government personnel have been visiting our locality almost daily but we are scared that if we show any document to them and same may be misused against us.”
Khursheed Bano, an ex-corporator and resident of Mujawar locality said, “There is fear among Muslims after CAA was introduced and there were talks about NRC. Several Muslims talk to me and ask if they will be deprived of their citizenship. I try to convince them that nothing is going to happen but they hardly look satisfied with my reply.”
A social worker Kishore Javeria said, “This is true that after the CAA came into being there is anxiety and fear in Muslim community. The administration has to take steps to ensure that the feeling of fear, anxiety and apprehension is allayed.”
The fear is not confined to Neemuch. It is stalking people in neighbouring districts too.
Hameed Painter, a resident of Khanpura locality in Mandsaur and Mohd Ibrahim, a resident of Madina Masjid area of Ratlam spoke in a similar vein.
Additional district magistrate of Neemuch Vinay, Kumar admitted that administration is facing the problem.
He said, “The present survey work will be followed by Census work. The government’s policies are based on population only. If common man doesn’t show their documents or give information about them they will have difficulties in getting the benefits from the government schemes. This phenomenon has come to our notice and we are looking into it as to how to sort it out.”
The opposition BJP has accused vested interests of spreading fear among the people over CAA.
There are deliberate attempts by some elements to infuse fear in mind of people despite the fact the central government and the BJP have repeatedly made it clear that CAA is about granting the citizenship, not about snatching one’s citizenship. The government has also made its stand clear on NRC. There should be no reason for any apprehension or fear,” said Rajneesh Agrawal, spokerperson of the BJP’s Madhya Pradesh unit.
Minister for backward classes and minorities in Kamal Nath government Arif Aqueel blamed the Center for the fear among minorities.
“It is but natural that the circumstances created by the central government have resulted in fear stalking the minority community. But at the same time, Muslims are a brave community. They are citizens of the country for generations like others. No one can snatch the right of citizenship. The government will take steps to ensure that people don’t have any fear or apprehension,” Aqueel said.
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