Home Muslim culture Why Muslims in Jharkhand are celebrating the new home policy

Why Muslims in Jharkhand are celebrating the new home policy


Since the time of partition, Indian Muslims have inadvertently faced the burden of discrimination and redress whenever issues of domicile, membership and aboriginality are raised in any part of the country. The latest example is the preparation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, which was seen by many as a communally charged and antagonistic step towards Muslims and even led to nationwide protests.

So when the government of Jharkhand approved the policy of domicile based on the 1932 survey, a few questions naturally arose – what would become of the Muslims in the state? Do they have land records here or are they infiltrators? These alleged discussions have nevertheless gained momentum in the context of communal unrest that the state has been experiencing for several months.

Violent protests by Muslims in Ranchi on June 10 against former BJP spokesman Nupur Sharma’s comment on the Prophet Muhammad have strengthened some communal elements of the state. The rumors about Bangladeshis’ghuspetthiyas‘ (infiltrators) quickly began to float in the regional media. Compounding matters was the statement by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey in Parliament that Jharkhand had become a home for millions of Bangladeshi infiltrators and that the Soren government was promoting “Islamization” on August 9.

However, contrary to all presumptions and allegations, Muslims in the state are at the forefront of all pro-home processions. Not only that, while speaking to Outlook, one said: ‘We’ve been staying here for ages. After so long, we will gain the recognition of being Jharkhandi. It is, for us, much more than getting jobs in government sectors”.

These celebrations and attributions to centuries of belonging have made us dig into the archives. How far can we trace the Muslims? Are there any references in the British accounts to the presence of Muslims in this area? Did they participate in the independence movement? What follows is a journey through the body of archives to trace the Muslims of Jharkhand to its beginnings.

Muslim traces in geographical directories and archives:

Governor of Bihar RR Diwakar in his 1952 book “Bihar through the ages”, point out that Muslims have been staying in this area for at least 800 years. They gradually mixed with the Adivasis and the exchange of lifestyle and culture continued. While working on the Munda languages, the German Jesuit linguist Father Hoffman even discovered the presence of Arabic and Persian words. Although such an early presence of Muslims could not be further mentioned, the Ranchi District Gazetteer written by Macpherson and Hallet in 1917 noted their presence during the Sher Shah period. “During this period there must have been considerable immigration of Mohammedans into the country, as villages consisting entirely of Mohammedans are found scattered throughout the district,” he noted.

In another district gazetteer compiled by N Kumar, we found that Muslims mainly from weaver caste started coming to this locality from Biharsharif and Gaya in the early 19th century. Their migration was the result of the promotion of British cotton products and the decline of indigenous weaving tools in the region.

Another reason for Muslim settlement was an invitation from local feudal lords. The continuous uprisings of the Adivasi made the landowners insecure and they wanted military support from Muslims in Bihar and the country to tame the insurgents. However, the military adventurers were very few and could not contribute much to the development of the Muslim population.

The first mosque in Ranchi known as Handewala Mosque however was founded by a law practitioner Nadir Mian in Upper Bazar. Bari Masjid also called the Jumma Masjid was founded in 1867. The traces of Muslims in the Upper Bazaar locality of Ranchi could be attributed to this period.

Another significant account of the early presence of Muslims can be found in a survey of Ranchi town conducted between 1960 and 1962 by LP Vidyarthi and historian JN Basu. They discovered that the Muslim “Gowala” (Gaddis) castes have resided in Doranda, Ranchi for over two hundred years. Referring to the earliest traces of Muslims, they note that “Tribals were the earliest inhabitants and among the non-tribals, Muslims were the earliest settlers in the Ranchi area.”

Ranchi Muslims during the independence movement

While the question of belonging is more about emotion than papers, to miss its presence in the struggle for independence is to deny it the rights to history/stories. The presence of Maulana Abul kalam Azad in Ranchi certainly played a big role in consolidating Muslims, there are also other instances where Muslims took the leadership of the movement in the state.

When the British celebrated the fall of the Ottoman Empire, there were Muslims in Ranchi who denied celebrating the victory of the colonizers. Kamta Chaube in his book Muslims and Freedom Movements in India notes: “On December 14, 1919, a group of Muslims marched through Baazar and explained the grievances that Muslims had against the government and asked everyone to boycott peace celebrations. Ranchi Madrasa did not observe December 13 as a public holiday. Virtually all students attended their classes wearing black badges on their arms.”

The presence of local Muslims in the non-co-operation movement can also be found in the letters of Mr. Whitty, Deputy Commissioner of Ranchi to IF Lyall, Commissioner of Chotonagpur, dated February 24, 1921. Noting the overwhelming impact of leadership Muslim, they pointed out Md. Yusuf, Md. Ishak, Md. Alim and Ali Jan Suudagar were the main leaders of the non-cooperation movement between November 1920 and February 1921.

The address of Usman, then Maulavi chief of Anjuam Islamia Madrassa (founded by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad) on February 1, 1921, during a general assembly was noted above all in police reports for his influence not only on the Muslims, but rather on different Adivasi. communities. The role of the Momin conference of the Jharkhand region is also well noted. They were the first Muslim organization to oppose the Muslim league’s partition demands.

These scattered references in archives and literature can help us understand why Muslims celebrate the politics of home. At a time when the very existence of Muslims is reduced to a few papers, documents and identity cards, tracing them to a state known for its Adivasi identity is an effort to look at our histories in a different way.

At this point, Mohd’s words. Imran, a fierce Jharkhand Andolankari finds his relevance. In the midst of the home policy celebrations, when I asked his opinion on it, I was told-“Hum kagaz zaroor dikhayenge”. (We will certainly show our papers)