Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday claimed that Hindus will become a minority in the state within five years if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is not passed, PTI reported.
“I strongly believe that if this Bill is not passed, then Hindus in Assam will become a minority in just the next five years,” he said. “That will be advantageous to those elements who want Assam to be another Kashmir and a part of the uncertain phase there.”
The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 in order to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years, even if they do not possess the necessary documents. Several indigenous organisations in Assam have opposed the Bill as they believe it would harm their cultural identity.
Protestors on Monday observed a “Black Day” in several parts of the state and burnt replicas of the draft legislation. They also burned effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. Members of some Assam-based organisations protested in the nude in Tinsukia and also near the Parliament in Delhi.
Sarma said he stood by his earlier comments that the state will go “[Muhammad Ali] Jinnah’s way” if the Citizenship Bill is not passed. “Without that Bill, we are surrendering to the philosophy of Jinnah. If those people are not there, the Sarbhog [Assembly] seat will go to Jinnah,” he had said. “Do we want that? This is a fight between Jinnah’s legacy and India’s legacy.”
The Sarbhog seat is held by Bharatiya Janata Party State President Ranjit Dass.
Sarma’s remarks had led to protests in the state. But the minister said those protesting against him were unaware of Assam’s history and its formation during the years of Partition. Sarma said that those aware of Assam’s history knew that Jinnah’s Muslim League had wanted it to be a part of Pakistan, but the effort was thwarted first by former Chief Minister Gopinath Bordoloi and then by the Congress.
“It was not only the Muslim League that wanted to have Assam in that plan, but the same demand was also raised from inside the state at that point of time,” said Sarma. “Those elements are still there.”