The Assam Police on Saturday filed a case against Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam for allegedly suggesting that the state be “cut off” from the rest of India in a speech at Aligarh Muslim University on January 16. Earlier in the day, Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had called Imam’s alleged remarks “seditious” and said the state would file a complaint.
Additional Director General of Police GP Singh said Imam had been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in Guwahati.
Sarma alleged that Imam’s comments were aimed at disrupting the law and order situation in the state. “Assam government has taken cognisance of this very seditious statement and we will register a case against this individual,” he said. “A lot of wrong things have been said by this individual, aimed to create law and order situation in Assam. We will bring this person to the court so that he is punished in accordance with the law.”
During Sarma’s press conference, an audio clip of Imam’s purported comments was played. “Our responsibility is to cut Assam from India, then government will hear our voice,” said a voice, according to Inside NE. “If we have to help Assam, then we will have to cut the Assam from rest of India.”
“I was saying we should try to peacefully block roads wherever possible,” Imam told The Indian Express on Sunday. “In that context, I said you have to block roads going to Assam. It was basically a call for chakka jam. They can put cases on me by editing these clips, but there is nothing that they can prove.”
The PhD student has been described as the organiser of the protest at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, which has emerged as one of the main sites of popular resistance against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens. Protestors, mostly women and children, have been staging a continuous sit-in demonstration in the locality for over a month now.
On Saturday, a statement was issued by an account on Twitter that claims to represent the protestors at Shaheen Bagh, reiterating that there was no organiser of the protests, which were led by women.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11 and notified by the Centre on January 10, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it. At least 26 people died in the protests last month – 19 in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.