‘Do we not have any rights?’ Indian Muslims’ fear after Assam evictions
…. For decades, Assam has been afflicted by divisive fears that outsiders, mainly those from neighbouring Bengal and Bangladesh, are settling illegally. But tensions have worsened since the BJP came to power in the Assam state government in 2016, with Bengali Muslims finding themselves increasingly ostracised and demonised as the “outsiders” and “infiltrators”.
Bengali Muslims have suffered most from the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a citizenship survey carried out by the BJP government in 2019, on all residents of Assam to identify those deemed to be illegal immigrants. While over a million Bengali-origin Hindus and Muslims, many who had been born in Assam, found themselves left off the register, an amendment to the citizenship law by the BJP government means that Hindus not on the NRC will likely be able to apply for citizenship anyway, leaving Muslims facing statelessness, expulsion or detention.
This year the BJP has increased its rhetoric on driving “infiltrators” from Assam. At an election rally in Assam in January, the home minister, Amit Shah, the closest ally of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, said: “Do you want to make Assam infiltrator-free or not? … Only the BJP can do that.” Yogi Adityanath, a hardline Hindu monk and BJP chief minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh, also made speeches in March mentioning infiltrators in Assam….