Guwahati: Shortly after BJP MLA Mrinal Saikia, referring to a film, claimed on Monday that a “situation akin to the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits might happen in Assam” as Muslims are in majority in many parts, Congress legislator Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha retorted stating that films on torture endured by people over the NRC issue should also be made.

During a discussion in the Assembly over state Budget for 2022-23, Purkayastha said it was rather important that a film be made on the plight of doubtful voters, and the state of detention centres.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a document containing names of the country’s citizens. An updated list was released in 2019, which had names of over 31 lakh people out of more 33 lakh applicants. Many were deemed as illegal foreigners.

Saikia, while referring to the content of newly released Bollywood film ‘Kashmir Files’, said, “Assam can be divided in three parts — lower, middle and upper. Muslims are in majority in lower and middle Assam. In upper Assam, they are not in majority. Benefits meant for minorities don’t reach the Muslims of upper Assam,” he noted.

Citing Census of 2011, Saikia asserted that the community was in the majority in nine districts, with some of the sub-divisions having over 75 per cent Muslim population.

“In ‘Kashmir Files’, we saw that Hindus were the minority community in Kashmir… they faced torture, and were made to leave homes. We need to take steps so such situation does not arise in Assam,” he added.

Purakayastha, in reply, said, many people in the state have suffered due to the policies of the BJP government, and a film on their predicaments should get made.

“In all, 148 people have died due to the torture and harassment over the foreigner issue. I personally visited the houses of 130-135 people as an MLA and have seen the fear among them. We can make Assam Files, NRC Files, D-Voter files, Detention files and many such movies.”

All these people died due to the “wrong policies” of the BJP government, which, in its first budget, had promised to implement the Assam Accord in letter and spirit but later did not make any mention of it, Purkayastha said, adding “this year’s budget was directionless”.

Taking exception to Saikia’s remark, AIUDF MLA Rafiqul Islam said enquiries should be conducted in Nellie massacre, Bansbari attack and Malegaon blasts.

“Kashmir Files does not show that houses of many Muslims were also evacuated in Kashmir. It is the prime minister’s job to enquire and punish the guilty,” he added.

Talking about the Budget, Islam said it was more of a lecture on political science and history.

Independent MLA Akhil Gogoi said the Budget for 2022-23 does not have any vision for the future, despite the fact that the state was passing through a “critical economic phase”.

“The government has become a power-hungry Hindutva force, which has surrendered itself in front of the corporate. The state government, on the other hand, has fully surrendered before the Centre,” he added.

Assam Finance Minister Ajanta Neog on March 16 presented a Rs 600.36-crore deficit budget for the 2022-23 financial year and proposed a “green tax” on all old vehicles to discourage people from using them as these are “detrimental” to the environment.

She also said that the government would hike the rates of various services such as licence fees for liquor shops in urban areas, royalty on forest produce and entry tickets in national parks.

Welcoming the budget, ruling alliance members — AGP’s Ramendra Narayan Kalita and UPPL’s Gobinda Chandra Basumatary — termed the annual financial document as “balanced, development-oriented and hopeful.”

Also read | ‘Horse-trading’ issue of MLAs rocks Assam Assembly

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