According to Assam state cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, it is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s policy to differentiate between Hindu and Muslim migrants from Bangladesh to the state. “We clearly do,” the state education, health and finance minister told The Indian Express. “After all, the country was divided in the name of religion. This it is not a new thing.”
“It is unclear if the people of Assam were becoming a minority in their state from the linguistic aspect or religious aspect, or from a combined attack of both language and religion,” Sarma said.
“The whole thing is that we have to decide who our enemy is. Who is our enemy, the 1-1.5 lakh people or the 55 lakh people? The Assamese community is at the crossroads. We could not (save) 11 districts. If we continue to remain this way, six more districts will go out (of our hands) in the 2021 Census. In 2031, more (districts) will go out,” said Sarma, replying to queries on the opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Assam.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Assam aims to help Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Sikh migrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh to get refuge in India and grant them citizenship.
“When we go to Dibrugarh or Tinsukia (districts) we feel very good, because we are in a majority there. But do you feel good when you go to Dhubri or Barpeta (districts)?” he asked. Both Dhubri and Barpeta are among the Muslim majority districts.
Sarma said the BJP wanted to protect the Bengali-speaking Hindu migrants and wanted to keep them segregated from the Bengali-speaking Muslim migrants. “We want the Bengali-speaking Hindus to remain with the Assamese people. That is the BJP’s viewpoint. It has not changed. It has been the same, both before and after elections,” said Sarma.
“Does secularism mean that the satras have to move out of their original places? Does secularism mean some people will snatch away land belonging to Batadrava satra? Does secularism mean some people will encroach upon land in Kaziranga and Pobitora (wildlife sanctuaries),” Sarma added.