As many as three FIRs have been lodged in as many police stations in Assam against Maulana Syed Arshad Madani, president of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, for making a statement amounting to “promoting enmity between communities” in the backdrop of updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state.
Confirming this Assam DGP Mukesh Sahay said the police were examining various evidences including the original audio and video recordings of a speech that Madani had reportedly made in a seminar in New Delhi on Monday, and ‘appropriate action’ would be taken once the allegations were proved true. “We are procuring the audio and video tapes of Madani’s allegedly inflammatory speech,” DGP Sahay said.
“The police have received three FIRs, two in two different police stations in Guwahati and one in Tezpur against some comments made by the Jamiat chief which allegedly amount to promoting enmity between communities. Moreover, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal too has asked me to take up the matter with urgency,” Assam Police director general Sahay said at a press conference here on Wednesday.
Reports in several local newspaper and TV news channels here have quoted Jamiat chief Madani as saying that a conspiracy was hatched in Assam to take away the citizenship of Muslims and create another Myanmar. The Assam Tribune quoted Madani as saying, “A conspiracy is being hatched to take away the citizenship of the Muslims.” Madani had even warned that one community would retaliate in the event of their names being dropped from the NRC, the newspaper said.
The newspaper also quoted Madani as saying that any attempt to sabotage the on-going NRC updating process in Assam will create a situation like Myanmar. “If panchayat-issued residency certificates are not considered as valid documents for claiming citizenship, lakhs of Assam’s women residents will be deprived of their nationality, turning India into a second Myanmar,” the newspaper quoted Madani as having said. Other Guwahati-based newspapers too have carried similar reports.
Madani had made that allegedly inflammatory statement in a seminar titled “Current Political Impasse in Assam: Updating the NRC and the Question of Citizenship” organized in New Delhi on Monday by a little-known group called Delhi Action Committee for Assam (DACA). Among those from Assam who attended it alongside Jamiat chief Madani included noted Assam intellectual Hiren Gohain, veteran journalist Haider Hussain, Gauhati University professor Abdul Mannan and former Nort-East Hill University professor Apurba Kumar Barua.
While Madani’s reported statement has already triggered off widespread protests across Assam, chief minister Sonowal has taken a stand that his government would consider as enemies of the state those trying to derail the NRC updation process. “Elements trying to derail preparation of the NRC will be treated as enemies of the state. The government will not sit idle against such elements,” Sonowal said.
The ruling BJP and its ally AGP have both condemned Madani’s alleged statement. “Madani’s statement is highly provocative and communal. He is also trying to challenge the Supreme Court under whose supervision the NRC is being updated,” said BJP state general secretary Manoj Barua. AGP president Atul Bora – who is also a minister in the Sonowal government – on the other hand has described Madani as “anti-national.”
Various groups including the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) have burnt effigies of Madani across the state, some also demanding his immediate arrest. “Madani is engaged in a conspiracy to scuttle the NRC preparation by making such highly inflammatory, provocative and communal utterances,” said AASU chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya.
The Congress party in Assam too has condemned the Jamiat chief. “Madani’s statement at a seminar in Delhi on November 13 is definitely provocative and communal. The Congress being a secular party does not support such statements,” a statement issued by the APCC here on Wednesday said.
The All India United Democratic Front (AUIDF) headed by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal however has said that section of the media had misinterpreted what Madani had said. “I have listened to the audio recording of what Madani had said. He spoke in Urdu and a section of the media have misinterpreted it,” AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam said.