No govt promise will work at this moment in Assam

The fear of marginalisation in Assam is old and is no less against Bengali Hindus than the Muslims and this is what the BJP has tried to change on the ground," Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty, who recently published the authoritative book Assam: The Accord, The Discord, tells Rediff.com's Utkarsh Mishra in the first of a three part interview

No govt promise will work at this moment in Assam
Protesters gather for a concert organised by All Artists of Assam against Citizenship Amendment Act in Guwahati. Photograph: PTI Photo

The fear of marginalisation in Assam is old and is no less against Bengali Hindus than the Muslims and this is what the BJP has tried to change on the ground," Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty, who recently published the authoritative book Assam: The Accord, The Discord, tells Rediff.com's Utkarsh Mishra in the first of a three part interview.

How do you see the new law coming into effect in Assam?

We are witnessing massive protests in the north east, particularly in Assam.

Within the six religious groups (whom the bill grants citizenship to) there are also Christians.

So, it's no more an argument that this is against the secular credentials of the Indian Constitution.

You can certainly call it anti-Muslim, but you cannot call it purely anti-secular, because calculatively, the Christian community has also been roped into it.

I think the Bharatiya Janata Party also thought that it will pass muster within the north east by putting in the Christian community. But what we saw was non-acceptance of not just of the Hindus by the Hindus, but of Christians by the Christians also.

So, that brings us to the crux of the problem in the north east, that the issue is not about religion. The issue is about communities, about the fear the smaller communities have against the larger communities.

Because it is directly linked to not just economic control, but also to land and political control. The identity of most communities in the region is territorial, directly linked to the land.

People there often give the example of Tripura to justify why they fear influx from across the border and also the Bill.

A lot of refugees, mostly Bengali Hindus, settled down in Tripura from East Pakistan during Partition and later due to the Bangladesh Liberation War. It was also because Bengali was also spoken in that state. So people felt that it's better to settle down in those areas.

Source : Rediff.com