Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS) which has for the past few months been voicing concern over ‘love jihad’ across India, is set to expand its activities to the northeastern state of Assam. It aims to “support Hindus amid the rising population of Bangladeshi migrants”.
To start with, the outfit plans to organise ‘dharma and nation-related’ activities in the state from next week. To make the programme a huge success, HJS has sought the help of other Hindu organizations and pro-Hindu individuals in Assam.
The first of HJS’s ‘dharma and nation-related activities’ in Assam is to be held in Guwahati on Nov 7, for which “over 100 groups and individuals “have registered within two days”.
Ramesh Shinde, HJS spokesperson, who left for Guwahati on Tuesday to oversee preparations for the Nov 7 event as well as garner support from “like-minded people”, said: “Assam is our first milestone in northeast. We wish to understand the complex issue of Muslim migration and the practical problems the Hindu community faces. It’s our duty to support the Hindu community, especially after Narendra Modi failed to keep his promise of ousting illegal Bangladeshis.”
HJS feels social organizations must intervene, study the issue at the grassroots level and support the Hindu community which is being ‘discriminated’ against. “No government in the centre or state has been able to address this long-pending issue as they don’t work at the grassroots level. We seek to fill the void and also expect the government to at least implement the existing laws sternly,” said Shinde.
Samiti also slammed Modi for “not doing anything for Hindus”. Shinde said: “Since Modi became PM, there is no word on Ram temple, ban on cow slaughter or Bangladeshi immigration.”
Asked if their move could add fuel to the already simmering state where Muslims are being targeted, Shinde said: “It’s the Muslims who are spreading terror across the world. Till now, no case against any Hindu outfit has stood in courts of law.”
Dr Charudatta Pingle-led HJS is based in Maharashtra and has been active across India, barring Himalayan states and northeast region, for the past many years. HJS works to unite Hindus, promote Indian traditions, protect national symbols, oppose conversions, love jihad, cow slaughter, etc.
Alarming, say observers
Observers term the new HJS move alarming. In the last two years, many other Hindu groups have been active in Assam and their assertion has gone up since the BJP government came to power at the centre, say observers.
Rubbishing the claims of saffron groups, Conflicts Analyst and executive director of Strategic Research and Analysis Organization, Nilim Dutta, said: “In the last few decades, Assam’s population growth rate has declined and remained lower than the national average. In Kokrajhar, one of the sensitive districts which has seen many Bodo and Muslim conflicts, the population growth was a mere 5.19 per cent in 2001-2011, which is much less than other districts. This demolishes the malicious claims of ceaseless illegal Bangladeshi immigration and conflicts arising out of it.”
Dutta added: “The activities of Hindu outfits on the pretext that the nation or the Hindus are under existential threat, is certainly an undesirable development and likely to cause communal polarization and disturb Assam’s social harmony further.”
There have been several mass killings in Assam since 1993 (Bodo militants killing Muslims perceived to be illegal Bangladeshi migrants) with two major spells in 2012 and May 2014. Increasing communal polarisation in this tea-growing state has led to four lakh Muslims living in relief camps.
11 Muslim majority districts in Assam
Of the 27 districts in Assam, 11 have Muslim majority with some districts having 60-75% Muslim population as per 2011 Census. The border district of Dhubri saw 23% growth in population during 1991-2001. These figures were much exploited by the political parties.
Hindu upper class worry
Demographers however say many non-border districts too saw similar growth in that period. Analysts cite insecurity among Assamese elite upper caste Hindus (natives and Bengalis who migrated from East Bengal during British rule and Partition) as the major reason for the conflict.
“Since impoverished Muslim community is now getting educated and staking claims to jobs and other opportunities, upper caste Hindus who have dominated the socio-political scene in the state for decades feel Muslims are eating into their share,” analysts say.