Why does the CAA matter to the ‘Matuas’, and why does the community’s support matter in the elections?
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History & Culture
2nd Feb, 2021
- For years, the Matuas were demanding an amendment to the Citizenship Act of 2003, whose provisions made it difficult for refugees to get citizenship. The proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) only.
- The Matua community has members on either side of the Bengal border.
- It is associated with a religious movement begun in the 1870s by Harichand Thakur of a Namasudra (SC) family, who hailed from Safaldanga in East Bengal.
- In the early 20th century, his son Guruchand organised the movement socially and politically.
- In 1915, the Matua Federation was established; Guruchand’s grandson barrister PramathRanjan Thakur led it in the 1930s.
- Peasant members of the community started migrating from East Bengal in droves after 1950, which continued after the formation of Bangladesh.
- Today, Matuas constitute the second largest SC population of West Bengal.
- Mostly concentrated in North and South 24-Parganas, they also have a presence in other border districts such as Nadia, Howrah, Cooch Behar, and Malda.
- Government sources put their number at around 17% of the state’s electorate.
What are their concerns?
- The Matuas were demanding an amendment to the Citizenship Act of 2003, whose provisions made it difficult for refugees to get citizenship.
- The proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) only added to their insecurity.
- Matuas have concerns for the lack of clarity over when CAA will be implemented.