Poetry in Muslim ‘dialect’ kicks up a storm in Assam – The Hindu

A group of people accused of portraying the Assamese as xenophobic through poetry, in a dialect associated with Bengal-origin Muslims, has asserted that controversy was being manufactured at a time when the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was being updated in Assam.

On July 11, the Assam Police registered an FIR against 10 people after receiving a complaint about a poem in Miyah — a dialect of Bengal-origin Muslims — lamenting the citizenship challenges faced by the religious minorities in the State.

The poem titled I am a Miyah is written by Kazi Sharowar Hussain and translated into English by Shalim M. Hussain, both based in western Assam’s Barpeta district. They are named in the FIR along with eight others.

Pranabjit Doloi, a freelance journalist, had filed the complaint on the basis of a viral video which shows the poem being recited. “They have the freedom to write poems, but I have objected to their use of certain terms conveying to the world that the Assamese people are xenophobic and hate Muslims,” Mr. Doloi asserted to The Hindu.

“The real intention of this poem is to motivate and provoke their community against the system. This is a threat to the Assamese people and national security. The poem talks of their men being gunned down, and women being raped. Assam has no such history, and Assamese people were not involved even in the Nellie [February 1983] massacre,” he contended.

Mr. Doloi also alleged that the poem had been “copied” from ‘ID Card’ by Arabian poet Mahmoud Darwish, with certain words replaced for local effect. “Instead of ID Card number used by Darwish, this poem uses NRC number, which is illegal,” Mr. Doloi asserted.

The poet and the translator, who could not be immediately reached for comment, however, issued a statement along with the other accused on Friday, rubbishing the charges made against them.

Protest poetry

“Miyah poetry began in 2016 as a series of poems opposing the use of the ‘Miyah’ as a slang word for Assamese Muslims of Bengal-origin,” the group of 10 persons said. “Today, ‘Miyah poetry’ is an umbrella term for poems by many, mostly young poets, from within and even outside the Bengal-origin Assamese Muslim community. These poems include stories of humiliation and discrimination, love poems, poems spreading social awareness, etc.,” they explained.

The current debate over Miyah poetry was “baseless” as a few lines of poems written three years ago were cherry-picked and taken out of context with malicious intent, they contended. “Not a single Miyah poem uses the word xenophobia,” they asserted.

They also trashed the allegation that Miyah poetry was a threat to the Assamese language. “This is an utter lie. A huge majority of the Miyah poems are written in Assamese, some in English and Hindi and a handful in local dialects… the current controversy is absolutely needless and is being created by groups with vested interests at a very crucial time when the NRC update in Assam is nearing completion,” they said in the statement.

Probe on

Dharmendra K. Das, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Guwahati Central, said the police had been probing the case in coordination with their counterparts in the districts where the 10 accused live. “We are taking time since it involves the use of information technology,” he said.

“We have not arrested [any one] yet,” he added.

The 10 persons have been booked under sections 420/406 of the Indian Penal Code, read with various sections of the Copyright Act, 1957.

“Disclaimer – This story is not been edited by ViralAssam Staff and is auto-generated from syndicated feed”

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