Row Over Minority Certificates; BJP Says Will Safeguard Rights, Opposition Alleges Ploy to Divide

A row has emerged a day after the BJP-led Assam government decided to issue minority certificates to Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis with the AIUDF and the Congress being the main opposition to it.

Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his cabinet had decided to issue these certificates, which the AIUDF alleged were a way to make communally divide Muslims living in the state. The party’s general secretary, Aminul Islam, told CNN-News18 that it had been defined by the Constitution on who should be declared minorities in the state or country. “But, the BJP is now outlawing the Constitution and declaring minorities on its own,” he said, adding, “this is just another way to create a rift between Goriyas, Moriyas and desis. Earlier, it was th religion game (Hindu-Muslim), now they are trying to bring differences within the religion.”

Aminul further said the BJP was trying to show the people of Assam how far and as to what extent it could harass Muslims in the state.

“Not just this, but things like separate identity for indigenous Muslims, NRC (National Register of Citizens), UCC (Uniform Civil Code) are all to show how they can divide Muslims and how much they can harass in the name of religion,” Aminul added.

Reacting sharply to the Sarma-led government’s descision, five other communities as well as opposition leader and senior Congress leader Debabrat Saikia also said the Constituion had already defined minorities. Now, the BJP was only playing it as a political tool, they added.

Responding to such opposition, BJP MLA Jayanta Malla Baruah said, “This is to make sure no illegal Bangladeshi enjoys benefits that we are giving to our indigenous peoples. This will safeguard the rights of actual minorities. Only those who are looking for illegal Bangladeshi votes will oppose such an empowering move by the state.”

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