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Assam Court orders FIR against CM Sarma for inflammatory remarks on eviction drive

Congress MP Abdul Khaleque had filed complaint against the Assam CM accusing for hate mongering and making inflammatory remarks

Sabrangindia 12 Mar 2022

Guwahati Court
Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

A Guwahati Court ordered Dispur Police to file an FIR against Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for his inflammatory remarks about the Darrang eviction drive being a revenge for the 1983 Assam agitation. The court of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Biswadeep Baruah directed the Dispur police station to file the case on the basis of a complaint filed by Congress MP Abdul Khaleque.

What did Sarma allegedly say?

In his written complaint dated December 28, 2021, to the Officer-in-Charge of the Dispur Police Station in Guwahati, Khaleque referred to a part of a speech delivered by the Chief Minister in Morigaon district on December 10, 2021, on the occasion of Swahid Divas (Martyrs’ Day). Here, Sarma had reportedly referred to the deaths of young Assamese boys in 1983 (during the Assam agitation) in Darrang district, and said that Assam was “bound to take some degree of revenge for those deaths.” Khaleque accused Sarma of maliciously giving a “communal colour to what was supposed to be an executive exercise.”

Sarma had reportedly said, “The Gorukhuti land belonged to the Assamese people. That there was a 4,000-year-old Shiva temple there, that its priest was murdered…None of this was written about by the national and international media when they covered the eviction.” He further said, “In 1983, young Assamese boys were murdered in Darrang district… Today Assam is bound to take some degree of revenge for those deaths.” The 1983 reference was about an incident where eight Assamese youths were killed in February 1983 during the Assam Agitation (1979-1985) in Chalkhowa in Darrang district.

Khaleque accused Sarma of hate-mongering and provoking people to commit “acts of rioting” against the state’s Muslim community.

The Gorukhuti eviction

The complaint also referred to the eviction drive that was conducted by the administration in Assam’s Darrang district on September 23, 2021. Over 200 families of Bengali speaking Muslims of Gorukhuti village in Dhalpur region of Sipajhar circle were rendered homeless with only a few hours notice. When they protested, police opened fire on them, killing a 28-year-old daily wage labourer and a 12-year old boy. Several others barely survived with bullet wounds to their face, stomach and heads!

While the incident sparked outrage, the CM maintained that the evicted families were "encroachers" and that they were driven out to enable the transfer of this land to "indigenous youth" to practice agriculture and fishing. He even tried to spin a narrative that the evicted families had attacked the police, forcing them to open fire. This despite the fact that the families had no dangerous weapons, and the image of the lathi wielding man used to show how villagers attacked the police was that of a man trying to protect his meagre possessions that he had managed to salvage before his hut was crushed to the ground by bulldozers.

The complaint also stated that the eviction drive had seen “brutal killings” as well as homes being “burnt to the ground”.

“By calling such horrendous acts as revenge, Sarma has not only justified the killings and arson committed there, but he has gone far ahead and communalised the whole exercise – the target of which was the Muslim population living there,” it adds.

The complaint further said, “The Chief Minister of a state has the constitutional obligation to protect its citizens irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Instead of doing so and preserving the social fabric of our beloved state, the Chief Minister is aggravating the situation through his vindictive hate mongering.”

The Complaint sought an FIR against Sarma under Sections 153 and 153-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). However, the police had refused to look into the Congress MP's complaint.

Khaleque’s advocate Shamim Ahmed Barbhuyan said that the Congress MP moved the court after the Dispur police station failed to file an FIR against the Assam CM.

In the order, dated March 5, the court ordered, “The O.C. Dispur P.S. is directed to register a case on the allegations mentioned in the complaint and investigate the matter fairly and to submit the Final Form at the earliest.” It added that the police had “failed in the discharge of its duty” by “failing to register the FIR”.

The order also stated, “The veracity of the allegations is not something which can be enquired prior to the registration of the FIR. By failing to even register the FIR, it appears that the police has failed in the discharge of its duty. Hence, this Court is of the considered opinion that it is a fit case to invoke Sec 156(3) of Cr.P.C.” This section deals with the power of the Magistrate.

Advocate Barbhuyan said that the court had directed Dispur Police to register an FIR against Sarma under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and section 153A  (promoting enmity between different groups and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Sarma's brush with the law

As we have previously reported in SabrangIndia, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has had quite a few run-ins with the law. Recently Sarma and his wife Rinku Bhuyan were summoned by a court in connection with an instance of violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during the 2019 General Elections. The case was filed in May 2019 referring to an interview of Himananta Biswa Sarma that was telecast on a TV channel where his wife Rinku Bhuyan was the CMD. The Election Commission had at the time filed a case upon receiving a complaint from the president and general secretary of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee.

In another instance, Assam Congress had demanded to file an FIR against Sarma and also demanded that the Election Commission bar Sarma from campaigning for engaging in alleged “corrupt practices”. Here the EC had served Sarma a show-cause notice for allegedly violating provisions of the Election Model Code of Conduct by incentivising voting for BJP by promising grant of funds for development projects in poll-bound constituencies.

The Court’s order may be read here:

Related:

Congress demands FIR against Assam CM for “corrupt practices”, demands EC bars him from campaigning
Court summons Assam CM, wife for alleged violation of Mode Code of Conduct
Crowd control by Police: How much force is too much force?

Assam Court orders FIR against CM Sarma for inflammatory remarks on eviction drive

Congress MP Abdul Khaleque had filed complaint against the Assam CM accusing for hate mongering and making inflammatory remarks

Guwahati Court
Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

A Guwahati Court ordered Dispur Police to file an FIR against Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for his inflammatory remarks about the Darrang eviction drive being a revenge for the 1983 Assam agitation. The court of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Biswadeep Baruah directed the Dispur police station to file the case on the basis of a complaint filed by Congress MP Abdul Khaleque.

What did Sarma allegedly say?

In his written complaint dated December 28, 2021, to the Officer-in-Charge of the Dispur Police Station in Guwahati, Khaleque referred to a part of a speech delivered by the Chief Minister in Morigaon district on December 10, 2021, on the occasion of Swahid Divas (Martyrs’ Day). Here, Sarma had reportedly referred to the deaths of young Assamese boys in 1983 (during the Assam agitation) in Darrang district, and said that Assam was “bound to take some degree of revenge for those deaths.” Khaleque accused Sarma of maliciously giving a “communal colour to what was supposed to be an executive exercise.”

Sarma had reportedly said, “The Gorukhuti land belonged to the Assamese people. That there was a 4,000-year-old Shiva temple there, that its priest was murdered…None of this was written about by the national and international media when they covered the eviction.” He further said, “In 1983, young Assamese boys were murdered in Darrang district… Today Assam is bound to take some degree of revenge for those deaths.” The 1983 reference was about an incident where eight Assamese youths were killed in February 1983 during the Assam Agitation (1979-1985) in Chalkhowa in Darrang district.

Khaleque accused Sarma of hate-mongering and provoking people to commit “acts of rioting” against the state’s Muslim community.

The Gorukhuti eviction

The complaint also referred to the eviction drive that was conducted by the administration in Assam’s Darrang district on September 23, 2021. Over 200 families of Bengali speaking Muslims of Gorukhuti village in Dhalpur region of Sipajhar circle were rendered homeless with only a few hours notice. When they protested, police opened fire on them, killing a 28-year-old daily wage labourer and a 12-year old boy. Several others barely survived with bullet wounds to their face, stomach and heads!

While the incident sparked outrage, the CM maintained that the evicted families were "encroachers" and that they were driven out to enable the transfer of this land to "indigenous youth" to practice agriculture and fishing. He even tried to spin a narrative that the evicted families had attacked the police, forcing them to open fire. This despite the fact that the families had no dangerous weapons, and the image of the lathi wielding man used to show how villagers attacked the police was that of a man trying to protect his meagre possessions that he had managed to salvage before his hut was crushed to the ground by bulldozers.

The complaint also stated that the eviction drive had seen “brutal killings” as well as homes being “burnt to the ground”.

“By calling such horrendous acts as revenge, Sarma has not only justified the killings and arson committed there, but he has gone far ahead and communalised the whole exercise – the target of which was the Muslim population living there,” it adds.

The complaint further said, “The Chief Minister of a state has the constitutional obligation to protect its citizens irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Instead of doing so and preserving the social fabric of our beloved state, the Chief Minister is aggravating the situation through his vindictive hate mongering.”

The Complaint sought an FIR against Sarma under Sections 153 and 153-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). However, the police had refused to look into the Congress MP's complaint.

Khaleque’s advocate Shamim Ahmed Barbhuyan said that the Congress MP moved the court after the Dispur police station failed to file an FIR against the Assam CM.

In the order, dated March 5, the court ordered, “The O.C. Dispur P.S. is directed to register a case on the allegations mentioned in the complaint and investigate the matter fairly and to submit the Final Form at the earliest.” It added that the police had “failed in the discharge of its duty” by “failing to register the FIR”.

The order also stated, “The veracity of the allegations is not something which can be enquired prior to the registration of the FIR. By failing to even register the FIR, it appears that the police has failed in the discharge of its duty. Hence, this Court is of the considered opinion that it is a fit case to invoke Sec 156(3) of Cr.P.C.” This section deals with the power of the Magistrate.

Advocate Barbhuyan said that the court had directed Dispur Police to register an FIR against Sarma under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and section 153A  (promoting enmity between different groups and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Sarma's brush with the law

As we have previously reported in SabrangIndia, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has had quite a few run-ins with the law. Recently Sarma and his wife Rinku Bhuyan were summoned by a court in connection with an instance of violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during the 2019 General Elections. The case was filed in May 2019 referring to an interview of Himananta Biswa Sarma that was telecast on a TV channel where his wife Rinku Bhuyan was the CMD. The Election Commission had at the time filed a case upon receiving a complaint from the president and general secretary of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee.

In another instance, Assam Congress had demanded to file an FIR against Sarma and also demanded that the Election Commission bar Sarma from campaigning for engaging in alleged “corrupt practices”. Here the EC had served Sarma a show-cause notice for allegedly violating provisions of the Election Model Code of Conduct by incentivising voting for BJP by promising grant of funds for development projects in poll-bound constituencies.

The Court’s order may be read here:

Related:

Congress demands FIR against Assam CM for “corrupt practices”, demands EC bars him from campaigning
Court summons Assam CM, wife for alleged violation of Mode Code of Conduct
Crowd control by Police: How much force is too much force?

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