New Delhi: A Twitter war broke out between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Himanta Biswa Sharma and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asadudin Owaisi on Wednesday over the Centre’s faith-based inclusion of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The political rhetoric on the NRC has intensified after over 19 lakh people were excluded in the final citizen list in Assam that was published on August 31.

The Twitter battle began after Hyderabad leader Owaisi attacked Hemanta Biswa as the latter said that Hindus will be protected in this country by hook or by crook.

“This is an open admission of how #NRCassam was being used to exclude Muslims. After putting undocumented people through such an arduous process, @himantabiswa says that, by hook or crook, Hindus will be protected. Citizenship CANNOT be given or withdrawn on the basis of faith,” Owaisi tweeted.

To this the Assam BJP leader retaliated saying, “If India does not protect Hindus who will protect them? Pakistan? India shall forever remain a home for persecuted Hindus, irrespective of your opposition Sir.”

However, Owaisi hit back at Biswa saying, “India should protect all Indians, not Hindus. Worshippers of two-nation theory can never understand that this country is much, much bigger than one faith. Constitution says Bharat will treat all faiths, races & castes equally. This isn’t Hindu Rashtra, it never will be inshallah.”

“We’re a country that has welcomed many persecuted communities (Hindus & non-Hindus), they’re refugees not potential citizens. Religion can NEVER be the basis of citizenship. Our forefathers rejected it when they drafted the Constitution & Godse’s aulaad cannot undo it so easily,” he added.

The Twitter war continued as the Assam leader reacted on Twitter and said, “Sir, India is a civilisation not country. History of a country starts with constitution. But history of a civilisation starts with much more. India that is Bharat was, is and will remain a vibrant civilisation. For Hindus, India has been our homeland for more than 5000 years!”

Owaisi had earlier slammed the BJP in Assam for its inefficiency over the contentious list. “They should stop asking for NRC throughout the country in terms of Hindus and Muslims. They should learn from what has happened in Assam. The so-called myth of illegal migrants has been busted,” he had said.

Notably, Mohammed Sanaullah, Kargil War veteran and retired Indian Army junior commissioned officer (JCO)  failed to make the final list of NRC. He had grabbed the limelight following his illegal detention after he was declared a foreigner by a foreigners’ tribunal earlier this year. His case is still pending in the Guwahati High Court.

Although the number of exclusions have reduced by a huge margin from the earlier draft of NRC that excluded nearly 42 lakh people, stories of distress and despair still continue as many residents continue to remain out of the citizen list. Some 19,06,657 people have been excluded from the final list, which names 3,11,21,004 people as Indian citizens.