Assam Congress MP Abdul Khaleque on Wednesday urged the police to lodge a first information report against Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for making allegedly communal statements against Muslims while justifying September’s eviction drive in Darrang district.
Sarma’s government has launched widespread, sometimes violent, eviction drives to clear government land of those whom it branded “illegal encroachers”. Many of those evicted were poor Muslim peasants who had earlier lost land in floods and erosion.
In Darrang, two civilians had died after the Assam Police opened fire at the villagers who were protesting against the eviction.
Khaleque on Wednesday claimed that Sarma, while giving a speech on December 10 in Assam’s Morigaon town, had said that Darrang evictions were revenge for the massacre and protests of 1983.
The Nellie Massacre of 1983 occurred after the Assam Agitation was launched by the All Assam Students Union in 1979. They had demanded the identification and deportation of undocumented immigrants from Assam.
The agitation witnessed several episodes of violence, with the most prominent being the massacre at Nellie village. Within six hours, agitators had killed around 1,800 people, mostly Muslim. The unofficial toll counts 3,000 dead.
“And by calling the unfortunate events at Gorkhuti [in Darrang] an act of ‘revenge’ for 1983, the Hon’ble Chief Minister is giving wanton provocation to people to commit further acts of rioting against the particular community of the state,” Khaleque said. “Through such malignant and provocative utterances, the Hon’ble Chief Minister is intending to cause disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will towards the Muslim population of Assam.”
The Congress MP said that Sarma had constantly targeted Muslims in the aftermath of the Darrang evictions. He added that the chief minister’s hate “manifested in the egregious acts of a government-hired photographer”, who stomped on the body of one of the persons killed by the police.
Several videos of the photographer desecrating the body of a protestor had surfaced online a day after the eviction drive took place.
“The chief minister of a state has the constitutional obligation to protect its citizens irrespective of caste, creed or religion,” the Congress MP said. “Instead of doing so and preserving the social fabric of our beloved state, the Hon’ble Chief Minister is aggravating the situation through his vindictive hate-mongering.”
Khaleque has filed the complaint under Indian Penal Code Sections 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc).