“Miyan log ko humre niche rahna hoga, nahi toh maarenge saala log ko. Ee desh hindu ka hai”—Muslim people will have to live under us, else we will beat them up. This country is of the Hindus—Amit Kumar, in his late twenties, said to me with pride. Kumar works for a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Dumka, a district in Jharkhand.
On 12 December, I travelled to several villages deep in the interior of the Santhal Pargana division, one of five administrative divisions in Jharkhand. It was the day after the Rajya Sabha passed the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The bill, now an act, states that members of six communities—Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian—from Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bangladesh, will not be treated as illegal immigrants, if they entered India on or before 31 December 2014. The act paves the way for them to gain Indian citizenship. Notably, Muslim migrants from these countries will not be entitled to the benefits under the act.
At the start of our journey, Kumar told me that there was no Hindu-Muslim dispute in the region, and all communities co-existed peacefully. Muslims form nearly 14 percent of the electorate in the state. However, after a few hours of traveling and speaking to locals, something changed. As he heard critical opinions about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 by members of the Muslim community, he became furious. Soon, he started talking about how Muslims could not dare to touch a Hindu man like him.