Shutting down madrassas, bringing UCC will benefit Muslims: Assam CM
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said shutting down madrassas (Islamic educational institutions) and implementing Uniform Civil Code would benefit Muslims. "We don't have to do this for Hindutva...Those who shut madrassas and implement Uniform Civil Code, Muslims should call them friend," he said. Sarma made the comments at an event in Delhi commemorating 75 years of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-linked magazines—Panchjanya and Organiser.
- Sarma became the CM of Assam in 2021. Since then he has allegedly been pursuing a hardcore Hindutva agenda in the state.
- One of his most controversial moves was to evict hundreds of families from Assam's Gorukhuti area, predominately inhabited by Muslims, to clear land from what he termed "illegal encroachers" at that time.
- Notably, one-third of Assam's population is Muslim.
Sarma, who joined BJP in 2015, further said that the word "madrassa" should go extinct if Indian Muslims are to progress in education. "If you want to teach religion, you do that at home. In schools, you learn science and mathematics," he added. Notably, Sarma had earlier stoked controversy when he initiated a move to shut down government-funded madrassas in Assam.
Sarma also spoke about the recent incident in Assam's Nagaon district where authorities demolished the houses of people allegedly involved in torching a police station. Reportedly, the incident happened after a man allegedly died in police custody. Sarma, however, said the episode happened in one of the 12 districts where Indians (Bharat ke mool niwasi) are a minority and migrants are a majority.
Sarma said, "First, we have to ensure we do not lose more land (to migrants), more constituencies," adding, "Later when the NRC is implemented, the definition of what is legal and illegal will come and then we get a chance to do more (sic)."
Sarma said that the 36% Muslim population in Assam is divided into three categories—"indigenous Muslims"; those who converted two generations ago; those who settled down either before or after 1971. While the first and second ones share similar customs and ways of life to mainstream Assamese, the third one identifies themselves as Miya, Sarma said on differences between indigenous Muslims and Miya Muslims.
Sarma also cornered Rahul Gandhi over his remark that India is a union of states as described in the Constitution. "If India is a union of states, what about the 5,000 years of rich history? By calling it a union of states, Rahul Gandhi is speaking of breaking up the country. Indirectly he is encouraging secessionist sentiments," Sarma said.
Sarma said the integration of the Northeast people with the mainstream was one of his dream projects. "We should feel like Indians like people in UP and Delhi feel....even now a marginal section has some issues...resolving that is our responsibility," Sarma said. Saying militancy is almost over in the Northeast, he added, "What was once a severed tie with the mainland is now back."