New Delhi: Speaking at an event organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Delhi on May 22, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said madarsas should cease to exist. “The word ‘madrasa’ should disappear. Teach the Quran at home, but children should be taught science and math in school. When we [the Bharatiya Janata Party] came to power, we felt that the state’s money should not be spent on imparting religious education of a particular religion,” he said, speaking about the law in Assam abolishing state-funded madarsas.
Sarma also spoke about the state’s Muslim population, his stint in the Congress and his recent bulldozer drives in Assam, as a result of which the state has successfully freed 5,000-6,000 hectare from encroachment.
About Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s “idea of nation” remark made at a UK event recently, where he said that India was a union of states, Sarma said: “What about the 5,000 years old culture then? What about Ramayana, Mahabharata, Rama, Krishna, Chanakya, Shivaji? But I don’t blame him. He must have got it from some JNU student who taught him these things.” The statement was part of a scathing attack the Assam CM mounted against the Congress. He said that disobeying the Gandhi family meant your job was in danger: “There was no party beyond the Gandhi family. If you disagree with one person or family, it doesn’t mean you are disobeying the nation.”
Muslims in Assam
According to Sarma, the state’s 36 per cent Muslim population can be divided into three categories—“indigenous Muslims, who share a similar culture and language; converted or desi Muslims; and those who have migrated from outside India and follow a different culture. They sometimes say their language is Miyan.” The CM, who had earlier said that Miyan Muslims are “very communal” and are responsible for distorting Assam’s culture, now questions why should the Miyans not be referred to as such when they themselves identify by that name.
He also said that, according to him, a Muslim is originally a Hindu, adding that ‘ghar wapsi’, or a process of “reconversion”, where one convers back to one’s religion of origin will be possible only in a particular environment and through proper education. “But that doesn’t mean one has to go to the temple or worship a deity. The person should put India first and think about India’s interests”, he said.
During his speech, he praised historical Assamese heroes, like Lachit Borphukon, a commander in the erstwhile Ahom Kingdom, located in present-day Assam. “Assam did not let Islamic invaders enter the region because of the bravery of heroes like Lachit Borphukon. If the southeast Asia region has remained untouched by Islamic civilisations, Assam should be credited for that”, he said.
(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)