Veteran social activist Mehboob Ali of Jorhat says leaders must not have religious bias

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 19-04-2024
Mehboob Ali
Mehboob Ali



The Circuit House Lane in the heart of Upper Assam's Jorhat town is a historic place where Assam's political and cultural renaissance was shaped by its vibrant Muslim community. Mehboob Ali, a septuagenarian, who hails from this locality, reflects on the invaluable contributions of is Mslims to the Assamese heritage and the political landscape as people in the Jorhat cast their votes in the Lok Sabha elections on Friday.

On the eve of the polling, Mehboob Ali says was undecided as to whom he will vote for the Jorhat parliamentary constituency. The Jorhat constituency is set to witness an interesting and nail-biting battle between the BJP's sitting MP Tapan Kumar Gogoi and Congress's MP Gaurav Gogoi.  

Ali is clear that no political party should differentiate or practice bias based on religion. Even though development should be inclusive, the Muslim community in Assam has been viewed solely as a voting bloc, and their broader concerns have been overlooked.

Mehboob Ali (Right) with Abdul Mazid , District & Session Judge and his wife

Ali's political maturity and wisdom to say that no political party does anything substantial so far for the Muslim community has come from his life experience. His uncle Mohd. Akram had famously collaborated with national leaders like President of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, veteran actors Moinul Hoque Choudhury, Utpal Dutt; and Nibaron Bora, writer. He also counseled politicians like Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi and Anuwara Taimur and Bijoy Krishna Handique, a former union minister.

Mehboob Ali, 75, spoke with Awaz-The Voice, Assam, and recounted tales of Assam's cultural magnificence and societal evolution . His eyes glint with pride as he recalls the legendary tale of "Chameli Memsaab," a timeless Assamese folklore immortalized on celluloid.

He reveals that his late uncle, Mohd. Asraf Saikia produced versions of movies in Assamese, Bengali, and Hindi, thereby etching the story deep into the cultural consciousness of the region.

Mehboob Ali remembers the historic day when his Uncle's Chameli Memsaab became the first Assamese film to be screened in Rashtrapati Bhavan. This was a major expose of the indomitable spirit of Assamese artistry and its enduring allure on the national scene.

Mehboob Ali (center) with his schoolmate Sri Jitendranath Goswami, scientist, and his wife

Mehboob Ali's life is a tapestry of social engagement and community service. From presiding over the Jamat Kalyan Samity to nurturing the legacy of Sri Babula Goswami Trust, his footprint on Jorhat's social landscape is indelible. 

He was a member of the team that constructed the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital. He was in charge of all electrification.

As an advocate for unity and inclusivity, he has championed causes ranging from education to cultural preservation.

Mehboob Ali with his wife Lt.Sirin Ahmed along with Jayanta Madhab at New Delhi

For Mehboob Ali, the essence of being Assamese transcends religious affiliations. Firm in his belief that culture supersedes creed, he proudly declares, "By religion, I am Muslim, and by culture, I am an Assamese".

His narrative is punctuated by instances of resilience and resolve, such as his battle for equal treatment during festive seasons where government officials were given festival advances, where he fought for recognition of Rongali Bihu as his own "Jatiya Utsav."

In Mehboob Ali's world, inclusivity is paramount, and identity is forged through shared experiences and mutual respect. His unwavering dedication to the assimilation of Assamese culture among all communities stands as a beacon of hope and understanding in an ever-evolving society.

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 As he goes down memory lane, Mehboob Ali sees himself as an advocate for unity, reminding us that in Assam, diversity is not just celebrated but woven into the very fabric of existence. Ali only hopes that the 2024 election will produce leaders, MPs, and ministers who address real issues (education, poverty, employment, etc.) of the Muslim community.