Discrimination between Hindu and Muslim migrants? Of course we do, says BJP

Written by Sabrangindia Staff | Published on: November 2, 2016
Admitting that it’s his party’s policy to differentiate on the basis or religion, Assam minister and convenor of the BJP’s North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday asked the people to choose their enemy between “1-1.5 lakh people or the 55 lakh people?”, according to an Indian Express report.

Himanta Biswa Sarma
Himanta Biswa Sarma    Image: India TV
 
The report said while the figures did not correspond to the official count of any migrant community, it noted that Sarma was seemingly referring to the number of Hindu and Muslim migrants, as he was answering questions pertaining to the opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Assam.

As explained in the news reports, the Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to allow illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan to not be imprisoned or deported.

The Bill, however, does not extend to illegal Muslim migrants. It also does not talk about other minority communities in the three neighbouring countries, such as Jews, Bahais etc.

While it is widely believed and often iterated by politicians that Assam has 55 lakh Bangladeshi migrants in the state, the number 1.5 lakh plausibly referred to the number potential Hindu migrants that can be eligible for Indian citizenship, provided the law is passed. 

Asked if it was the BJP’s policy to differentiate between Hindu and Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Sarma said, “Yes, we do”. “We clearly do. After all, the country was divided in the name of religion. Thus it is not a new thing,” said Sarma, as reported by Express.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill does not sit well with the Assamese as it is not in tandem with the Assam Accord of 1985, which states that illegal migrants heading in from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971, would be deported. Sarma reportedly asked those opposed to the bill to find out which community threatened to reduce the Assamese to a minority.

“There has been no analysis about whether we are becoming a minority from the linguistic aspect or religious aspect, or from a combined attack of both language and religion,” he claimed.

Referring to the increased number of Muslim-majority districts in Assam according to the 2011 census, he reportedly 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.”

He also said that they want to support Bengali-speaking Hindu community and wants to segregate them from the Bengali Muslims, according to the news reports.