Rejecting the claims of the Muslim community in Assam that they are a minority community, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said that Muslims are not the minority but have become the largest community in the state. The CM said that with 35% of the population, it is their responsibility to ensure communal harmony and alley the fears of minority communities like Brahmins and Tribal communities in the state. He said this while speaking during a debate on the Governor’s address in the budget session of the Assam assembly yesterday.
In his detailed address, Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Today people from Muslim community are leaders in opposition, MLAs and have equal opportunity and wield power. So it is their duty to ensure that rights of tribal people are protected and their lands are not encroached upon.”
The CM raised this issue while responding to allegations that his govt is anti-Muslim, citing the anti-encroachment drives of the govt, where Muslims were evicted from govt and public land. He pointed out that it the Muslims in the state who are encroaching land, while the so-called majority people don’t encroach.
He said, “There is no need to encroach on the lands of tribals residing in the sixth schedule area. If Bora and Kalita (Assamese surnames) have not settled on those land, Islam and Rahman (Muslim surnames) must also refrain from settling in those lands.”
CM Himanta Biswa Sarma further said, “Power comes with responsibility, and as Muslims constitute 35 percent of the Assam’s population, with roughly one crore populace, Muslims should realize that the state’s progress is inextricably related to their actions, and they should try to reduce the state’s difficulties by focusing on poverty alleviation, population control, and other issues. They should stop thinking of themselves as “outsiders” and concentrate on communal integration and harmony.”
Explaining how Muslims are the majority community in Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma that Brahmins constitute barely 2-3% of the population, while Kalitas (a non-Brahmin caste-Hindi Assamese community) may constitute around 10%. Similarly, he said that number of people from other groups like Ahoms, Tribals are also much less compared to numbers of Muslims in the state.
Inviting Muslims for sharing equal responsibility in the protection of cultural diversity, he added, “The Assamese people are under fear. There is fear that culture and civilization will be protected. Harmony is two-way traffic. Let Muslims talk about the protection of Sankari culture, Sattriya culture. There will be harmony. Ten years back, we were not minorities but now we are.”
He further said, “You are the largest community, and it is the responsibility of the largest community to create harmony in society. Now it is not our duty, that responsibility has shifted towards you. Therefore you must start controlling the population growth to eliminate poverty in future in Assam. You should take these initiatives yourself, why should we tell you this?”
Urging the Muslims to contribute towards development of the state, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that Assam will belong to Muslims only in future, and therefore they should ensure that the state is developed.
CM Himanta Biswa Sarma also underlined the problems of indigenous Muslims. He said, “Indigenous Muslims are also in fear of losing their identity. Around 4% out of the total Muslim population in Assam are indigenous Assamese Muslims and a large part are mostly Bengali-speaking Muslims.”
CM Himanta Biswa Sarma also took cognizance of the recently released film ‘The Kashmir Files’ in his detailed speech. He said, “People ask me if Assamese people will face the same fate as Kashmiri Pandits. Ten years down the line will Assam be like it is shown in the Bollywood movie Kashmir Files. It is the duty of Muslims to allay our fear. Muslims must behave like a majority and give us assurance that there will be no repeat of Kashmir here.”