54 / 2021
Yasmin Saikia

The Muslim Precariat of Assam: Contagion, Migrants, and COVID-19

This article examines the plight of migrant Muslim garbage pickers during the COVID-19 lockdown in India and their struggles to return home to Assam. Their financial hardships were exacerbated by social, political, and religious prejudices. Belonging to the Bengali-speaking miya community, deemed “Bangladeshi,” government authorities neglected them. The lockdown’s hyped-up anti-Muslim propaganda also reduced them to “corona jihadis.” The author reads their struggles as a case study of the Muslim condition in India and argues for civic engagement for redressing the condition of the marginal and vulnerable. The research was conducted through telephone and Zoom calls and in-person interviews. 
KEYWORDS: Assam migrants, COVID-19, lockdown, miyas, Muslim precariat, India