Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said that the definition of religious minorities in the state should differ district-wise, PTI reported.
“If there is a threat to religion, culture and education, even Hindus can be termed minority,” Sarma said while addressing the state Assembly, according to News18. He said there exists a perception that only Muslims are minorities in India.
The chief minister added that since the matter is under consideration in the Supreme Court, his government will wait for the judgement.
“I will try to make the government of Assam a party to the case and present our views on defining the minorities district-wise,” he said, according to PTI. “The case is on religious minority, not linguistic.”
The Supreme Court is hearing a plea filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay regarding the status of minorities in the country.
In his plea, Upadhyay has argued that Hindus are a minority in ten states and Union Territories, but cannot avail benefits of government schemes aimed at minorities. These 10 states are Ladakh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur.
On March 27, the central government had told the court that states were empowered to declare a community as a minority.
During Wednesday’s address in the Assembly, Sarma said that the Muslim community were a majority in several districts of Assam.
“In Assam, they [Muslims] are no longer minorities in several districts,” he said, according to PTI. “Now, Hindus can also be minorities in one state depending on the situation and threat perception.”
As per the 2011 Census, Hindus comprise 61.47% of Assam’s total population of 3.12 crore. Muslims constitute 34.22% of the population and are in majority in several districts, PTI reported. The Christian community forms 3.74% of the total number of people in the state, while Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains together less than one per cent.