GUWAHATI: Widespread protests were witnessed across Assam on Tuesday after Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind president Maulana Arshad Madani stoked a controversy by allegedly saying that the state will burn and there will be bloodshed if 50 lakh Muslims are deported to Bangladesh following the National Register of Citizens (NRC) updation.
Madani alleged that the BJP was making a deliberate attempt to bar lakhs of Muslims, especially women, from being included in the NRC. He added that the problem of certificate cropped up after the BJP came to power at the Centre as well as in Assam, and that the party was trying to create a Myanmar-like situation in Assam. He made these statements while addressing a press conference, organised under the banner of Delhi Action Committee for Assam, in New Delhi on Monday.
Taking strong exception to Madani’s comments, protestors burned his effigies and shouted slogans against him on the streets. The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), which spearheaded a six-year-long bloody anti-foreigners’ agitation in the early 1980s that led to the signing of the Assam Accord by the then Rajiv Gandhi government, demanded Madani’s arrest.
“Madani is provoking people by warning of a Myanmar-like situation. Hence, we demand his arrest. We will not tolerate if someone sitting in Delhi threatens the Assamese. How can he say that 50 lakh Muslims will be deported? He is virtually questioning the Supreme Court-monitored NRC process. He has defamed the court,” AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi said.
He alleged that some ‘communal forces’ were at work to disrupt the NRC process. Without naming Madani, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, “As the NRC is being updated, some forces are trying to create confusion in the minds of people. Strong action will be taken against such elements.”
Organisations such as Brihattar Asomiya Yuba Mancha, Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad and Tai Ahom Yuva Parishad also slammed Madani for his provocative comments and warned him to not meddle in the state’s affairs.
In February, the Gauhati High Court had declared as invalid the certificates of residency, issued by panchayat authorities, as a supporting document to claim citizenship. Some 47 lakh people, mostly Muslim women, had submitted the panchayat-issued residency certificates as a link document. Of them, around 17 lakh were found to be genuine Indians by the NRC authorities. The remaining are now worried. A PIL, filed in the Supreme Court by All Assam Minority Students’ Union challenging the HC order, will be heard on November 22.
As per the Assam Accord, a Bangladeshi who entered Assam illegally after March 24 (midnight), 1971, will be declared as a foreigner and as such, deported.