Defending the much-debated citizenship amendment bill that was passed in Loksabha on Tuesday, Assam Finance Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that it is important to prevent the state from becoming Pakistan. The comment came during an interaction with India’s today.
The Minister argued that the bill would protect ‘indigenous people of Assam’ and will prevent the Muslim-led All India United Democratic Front from controlling large swathes of Assam. The bill is also needed because there is a secessionist movement in Assam that threatens to lead to the state becoming “part of Pakistan”, Sarma suggested. Sarma argued that it was a “historical truth” in Assam that the Muslim League wanted as part of Pakistan during the Partition in 1947
Sarma said that while there’s no Muslim league anymore, attempts of changing the state’s demographics with a similar kind of mindset is going on in Assam. He said that even the Supreme Court has expressed fears that a demographic intervention challenging the sovereignty of India is taking place in Assam.
He however denied the allegations that the bill aims to deliberately increase Hindu population, and said that one of his past statements was grossly misquoted. “What I had said [was that] in three countries, Hindus have been persecuted,” Sarma said. “This bill is to give citizenship [to those] who came to India before December 2014 and have been actually came [sic] to India because of religious persecution,” Sarma said
He then went out on to elaborately explain that there are around eight lakh Bengali Hindus who have not been able to prove themselves as Indian citizens during NRC, but if these people are pushed back then 17 Loksabha seats will go out from the Assamese people to the likes of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF or UDF) led by Badruddin Ajmal whom Sarma described as the “enemy of Assam”.
Sarma was then asked about his recent comment that without the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Assam will “go the Jinnah way”.
“Are you trying to say there is a secessionist movement in Assam?” Sarma was asked. He responded in the affirmative. “Is it going to be part of Pakistan?” “Yes, yes, yes…”