The remarks of Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to a RSS gathering at Silchar recently take the breath away both for their contemptuousness of the Constitution and for his presumed ignorance of Kashmir, and possibly even his own home state.
He said Assam was on the way to becoming the next Kashmir. What exactly does he mean? Evidently, he is referring to the fact that Kashmir valley is a Muslim-majority region and for that reason is a problematic area. It is communal suggestions — and sometimes outbursts by communal-minded politicians regardless of party labels — and poisonous innuendos of this kind that ignore the facts and create social cleavages that injure national integration.
More importantly, such a presentation gives Pakistan a free pass and comes in the way of the understanding that our neighbour’s armed interference is the root cause of the trouble in Kashmir, along with the ideology and mindset that it has assiduously cultivated. More, it was Kashmir’s last ruler — a Hindu maharaja — who chose not to merge with India but acceded under certain conditions. The ordinary people were not even consulted on this matter.
Fabricating a parallel with Kashmir, Mr Sarma’s communal scaremongering looks to be aimed at giving Muslims in Assam a harder time than before, and is important that civil society stand up to call it out.
In view of the emerging problem as he sees it, of Muslims over-running Assam, which is plucked straight out of the playbook of the communal majoritarian, the CM has appealed to the RSS to “consolidate Hindus” and save Hindu institutions. If a self-proclaimed “cultural” NGO is asked by the chief political executive of the state to protect people, then it is clear the CM is placing his faith in extra-constitutional entities, not in the machinery of the state sanctioned by the Constitution. This is craven helplessness, which underlines Mr Sarma’s inability to protect the Constitution and work according to its principles.