Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will “protect” the indigenous Assamese people and it was needed because “there is a secessionist movement in Assam that threatens to lead to the State becoming part of Pakistan”.
Sarma said this during an exclusive interview with India Today on Wednesday.
A report published by India Today stated the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will prevent the Muslim-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) from controlling large swathes of Assam.
The powerful Assam minister, who is also the convenor of BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), Sarma argued that it was a “historical truth in Assam that the Muslim League wanted as part of Pakistan during the Partition in 1947”.
Now, the Muslim League is not there, Sarma said but there are “demographic interventions taking place in line with the 1947 thinking”, the report said.
He also claimed, as per the report, “Even the Supreme Court has expressed fears that a demographic intervention challenging the sovereignty of India is taking place in Assam”.
The Citizenship Bill, 2016 proposes to allow non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to become Indian citizens.
Amid protests against the Bill, the Lok Sabha passed the Bill on Tuesday.
Sarma denied the claim that the Bill aims to increase the population of Hindus and said he was “grossly misquoted” on the issue.
The report quoted the senior BJP leader as saying: “What I had said [was that] in three countries, Hindus have been persecuted,” adding, “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.”
The Assam Minister further said according to their estimates, there are “eight lakh Hindu Bengalis that will be out of the National Register of Citizens”.
Sarma explained that if these eight lakh beneficiaries of the Citizenship Amendment Bill were “sent back” then “17 [Lok Sabha] seats of Assam will go out [sic] from the indigenous Assamese people to the party like UDF [sic],” the report stated.
The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF earlier UDF) is led by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal whom Sarma termed as the “enemy of Assam”.
When asked “Are you trying to say there is a secessionist movement in Assam?” Himanta Biswa Sarma responded in the affirmative, the report stated and quoted Sarma as saying: “Yes, yes” in reply to the question – “Is it going to be part of Pakistan?”
(The India Today report was prepared by Kaushik Deka).