CAA, NRC will not hurt Indian Muslims: Bhagwat in Assam
- Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was also present at the event, said the reasons behind the protests against the CAA in other parts of the country were completely different from the ones in Assam.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Wednesday said the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) will not harm Indian Muslims and that a communal narrative was being peddled by some to gain political mileage.
At an event in Guwahati, Bhagwat also said that there were organised attempts to increase the Muslim population since 1930 in Punjab, Sindh, Bengal, Assam to establish dominance and turn the country into Pakistan. He said this “plan” was somewhat successful with Partition, but failed to get Assam and other provinces in full.
“After Independence, the first prime minister of the country said that minorities will be taken care of, and that has been done so far. We will continue to do so. No Muslim will face any loss due to CAA,” Bhagwat said at the launch of Gauhati University professor Nani Gopal Mahanta’s book on NRC and CAA.
Bhagwat insisted the CAA and NRC are not against any Indian citizen. “The (1950) Nehru-Liaquat Pact clearly stated that each country would protect its minorities. India has been following it, Pakistan failed to do so.”
The RSS chief said Indians always welcomed outsiders but designs by some to “impose their language, religion and food habits” had led to fears.
“Since 1930, there have been organised attempts at increasing Muslim population in a planned manner. The design was to increase population in order to exercise their dominance and slowly turn this nation into Pakistan,” said Bhagwat.
“This was true for Punjab, Sindh, Assam and Bengal. The plan worked to an extent as India got partitioned and Pakistan got created. But it didn’t happen entirely as planned and Assam didn’t go to Pakistan, though part of Bengal and Punjab got divided,” he added.
The RSS leader, who is on his first visit to Assam after the BJP returned to power in the state in May, said the citizenship law is meant to provide protection to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries seeking asylum in India.
“We reach out to the majority communities, too, in these countries during a calamity.... So if there are some who wish to come to our country due to threats and fear, we will definitely have to help them out,” Bhagwat said.
The contentious CAA, which was passed in Parliament in 2019, fast-tracks Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The absence of Muslims in the list led to fears of exclusionary treatment; in Assam, where the traditional issue has been the influx of outsiders, there were concerns that the law could legitimise the claims of those from outside the state.
“The provisions of CAA are meant for those who were persecuted in those countries and came to India for refuge. It is not for those who came to India without facing any persecution,” Bhagwat said.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was also present at the event, said the reasons behind the protests against the CAA in other parts of the country were completely different from the ones in Assam.
“While the former sought inclusion of Muslims on the list of communities mentioned in the legislation (CAA), the protests in Assam were against the legislation itself,” Sarma said.
Sarma said the government has a duty towards the persecuted people. “That is why I am a supporter of CAA and will remain one. But at the same time, we need to take measures to protect our Assamese identity and culture.” he said.
Separately, in 2019, Assam, at the instruction and under the supervision of the Supreme Court compiled a registry of citizens, also a key charter of the Assam Accord. The result was a roster that excluded around 1.9 million of the nearly 33 million applicants from the NRC. The list was dubbed faulty by most people, citing exclusion of genuine citizens and inclusion of persons with doubtful identity.