The Architect of Bhartiya Janta Party’s rise in north-east and Assam’s state finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that only way to stop Assam from becoming like Jammu and Kashmir is Citizenship Amendment Bill along with enforcement of clause 6 of Assam Accords and ST Status to six tribal communities.
Asserting that the state is witnessing a major demographic shift, he added that for Assam the bill is like the ‘Last Battle of Panipat’.
He also said that people who are responsible for bloodshed in Jammu and Kashmir should not be sermonising him on the issue of secularism. “We are committed to protecting Jati, Mati, Bheti (Identity, land and homeland)” He added.
Earlier this month, Sarma had given a similar statement, that without the bill, Hindus will become the minority in Assam, just like Jammu and Kashmir. “I strongly believe that if this Bill is not passed, Assamese Hindus will become the minority in just next five years. That will be advantageous for those elements who want Assam to be another Kashmir,” Sarma had said earlier.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on 8th January, seeks an amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955, to provide citizenship to the persecuted minorities (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Jains, and Christians) from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The bill was met with severe opposition from Assam and other political parties of North-east. It was alleged that the bill is against the interests of the people of Assam, as it will allow non-muslims from bordering countries to settle there. They have alleged that bill is in violation of the 1985 Assam Accords.
As per the Business Standard report, Sarma pointed it out that the Hindu population in Assam has gone down from 71% in 1971 to 61% in 2011. he said, “By 2021 if the eight lakh population of Hindu Bengali from Bangladesh taken out from Assam, the community’s population of Assam will reduce to a mere 51 or 52 per cent, which will pave the way for Badruddin Ajmal or Sirajudin Ajmal to become the CM of the state.”
The BJP leader further added that Hindus have already lost the power to decide in 14 districts of Assam. 30 Assembly seats have already gone. If the bill comes in, Hindus can at least hope to save 17 seats.
The statement came on the heels of widespread protests going on in north-east against the passing of Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha. A day before the statement, North East Students’s organization had converged and warned state and central government against the bill’s implementation. They even alleged PM Modi and CM of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal of becoming ‘saviours of illegal immigrants’.
Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal has stated that groups with vested interests are spreading misinformation about the bill and it will in no way bring an influx of immigrants into Assam, contrary to what is being spread among the people.
The Bill has united parties which have traditionally been arch enemies. The CPI(M) has been supported in its opposition to the Bill by Mamata Banerjee’s TMC. Members from the TMC and CPI(M), along with Congress and Samajwadi party, had also moved dissent notes to the JPC report on the Bill. Recently, BJP’s Bihar ally JD(U) also pledged support to parties opposing the bill, citing ‘Assamese Asmita’, and also declared that bill will not get their support in the Rajya Sabha.