Assam political party chief held for ‘trying to create rift’

Himanta Biswa sarma. Photo by DASARATH DEKA *** Local Caption *** Himanta Biswa sarma. Photo by DASARATH DEKA
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Assam political party chief held for ‘trying to create rift’
Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed on Saturday that a political party — as part of its efforts to expand its base in the state — is triggering controversy on the basis of language, and trying to foment rift between different communities.

Hours after Sarma’s comments made in Guwahati, the police arrested Barak Democratic Front (BDF) chief convener Pradip Datta Roy from Cachar district after a local organisation filed a case against him.

Cachar Superintendent of Police, Ramandeep Kaur, confirmed that Datta Roy was arrested on Saturday afternoon.

Earlier this week, Datta Roy had given a 48-hour ultimatum to the Cachar Deputy Commissioner to remove a government hoarding written in Assamese, threatening to launch a massive agitation if his demand was not met.

Without naming the BDF, Sarma said that a little-known organisation in the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley region had recently defaced government hoardings written in Assamese with black ink, while another organisation gave an ultimatum to the state government to remove the hoarding.

“Bengali-speaking Hindus are a minority in the Barak Valley. A motivated section is trying to make Bengali Hindus staying in Brahmaputra Valley vulnerable,” he told the media.

Sarma said that if these organisations really cared for Bengali people, they would have not done such an act as there are a huge number of Bengali-speaking people living in the Brahmaputra valley.

“Any kind of language-related action in Barak Valley causes corresponding reaction in Brahmaputra valley. BJP leaders in Barak Valley are trying to find details on under whose instructions these people are functioning,” the Chief Minister said, adding that “it is not possible to erase Assamese language from our heart”.

He, however, hinted towards Trinamool Congress as “the party behind this incident”, which is running a “motivated campaign”.

“The Congress never indulged in such acts,” he said.

Datta Roy, before his arrest, had said that after the historic language movement of 1961 that claimed 11 lives in police firing, Assam’s Language Act was amended, making Bengali the official language of Barak Valley comprising three districts — Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi — inhabited by more than four million people.

The hoarding on the ‘Jal Jivan Mission’ had also led to protests in October by various organisations, including the BDF and the All Bengali Youth and Students’ Organisation.

Another hoarding of the industry department written in both English and Assamese put up in the neighbouring Karimganj district was removed after the protests in October.

The influential All Assam Students’ Union had objected to the defacing of the hoarding, claiming that it was an insult to the Assamese language while demanding the arrest of the individuals involved in the matter.

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