Guwahati, Monday, January 17, 2011
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Social harmony in State example for India: Hameed
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Jan 16 – Co-existence and harmony among the Muslims and members of other communities that prevails in Assam is a great example which must be known and emulated by the rest of India.

The history of Srimanta Sankardeva and Azan Pir, their teachings, are invaluable and must reach out to people across the country to promote communal harmony and tolerance.

This was stated by Dr Syeda Hameed, scholar and member, Planning Commission, while delivering her keynote address at a two-day national symposium titled “Muslims in Assam: Challenges and Opportunities” here today.

The symposium was organized by the Centre for Development and Peace Studies, Guwahati. The symposium has been supported by the British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata.

Dr Hameed said that little is heard about the Hindu-Muslim unity in Assam in the rest of India. She, however, said that Assam should not be content with the existing communal harmony but should keep in mind that the State has a 300 km long porous border with Bangladesh, and illegal influx is a serious threat.

Inaugurating the symposium, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that Assam has a history of cultural coexistence and moderate mindset among the Muslims, Hindus, and all other communities living here.

“Involvement of all communities is a must for the development process. There is no doubt a feeling of neglect among several communities in Assam. We need better connectivity and communication. People should speak out their heart and engage in a dialoging process to try and resolve their problems,” he said.

Addressing the inaugural session, Sanjay Wadvani, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Eastern India, said: “This seminar is one in a series of events that we have been involved in over the course of several years with the Muslim community in India to promote and share experiences of religious harmony and encourage moderate Islam.”

“While celebrating the richness of our diversity and our range of faith, both countries have also had to continually work hard to promote peace and harmony between religious communities,” he added.

Earlier, Wasbir Hussain, director of the Centre for Development and Peace Studies said, “If we talk about Muslims in Assam practicing moderate Islam or call them moderates, it is perhaps because the balm of amity and humanism that was preached by spiritual leaders like Azan Pir has got into the psyche of the Muslims in the State. So, when we had riots across India after the demolition of the Babri mosque, Assam was relatively calm.”

The inaugural session was followed by two other sessions participated by a host of noted speakers.

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