Deliberate attempt to communalise Assam assembly elections?

Doctored video of AIUDF Chief Badruddin Ajmal shows him making communal statements, goes viral in poll-bound state

Doctored video of AIUDF Chief Badruddin Ajmal

In what appears to be a deliberate attempt to spark a communal conflagration and polarise the electorate in poll-bound Assam, a video of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Badruddin Ajmal, was circulated online claiming he wanted to turn Assam into an Islamic state.

The video was tweeted by Legal Rights Observatory, an NGO headed by Vinay Joshi, a former member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an organisation closely associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Meanwhile, it is noteworthy that the AIUDF is an ally of the Congress in the grand alliance dubbed “Mahajot” in the state.

The video of an old speech appears to have been edited in such a manner that his words appear out of context and communally charged. In the edited video, Ajmal appears to be saying in Assamese, “In this country Mughals have ruled for 800 years. God willing, we will make this an Islamic country with our alliance partners from the UPA. Our lock and key (symbol) will be part of this alliance.” That the video was doctored was first revealed by fake-news busting website Alt News that discovered that the original speech is from 2019 and that Ajmal had made no such claims even back then. But major media houses including News Live and DY365 had already shared the video by then.

At a press conference shortly afterwards, Ajmal, who is the Lok Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) from Dhubri, released the video of the original speech that was made in Barpeta in 2019. In the original video, it is evident that Ajmal actually said, “Despite ruling over India for 800 years, the Mughals never dared to even dream of turning it into an Islamic country. If they had done that, not one single Hindu would have remained in India. But did that happen?” To this the audience responds with a loud “No.” He then goes on to say the same thing about British rulers failing to turn India into a Christian nation. “There after during 70 years of independence when Congress was in power none of its leaders, from Jawaharlal Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi to Narasimha Rao, dared to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra!” He then goes on to address Prime Minister Modi in Hindi, saying, “Modi ji… yeh sapna mat dekhiye,” meaning, “Mr. Modi don’t dream of it.”

Speaking at the press conference where he laid bare the origins of the video Ajmal said, “Parts of the video have been doctored by merging speeches from other videos to make this, and project that if the Congress-AIUDF alliance comes to power, it will make Assam an Islamic state.”

But what is even more shocking is that the tweet is still visible, though Twitter has tagged it as “Manipulated Media”. Moreover, neither the Election Commission, nor the police, appear to have taken any action in the case. This is disturbing given how it is clear that the purpose of sharing such a communally polarising video, is to create communal tension in a state that is all set to go to polls soon. Assembly elections are due to take place in three phases in Assam from March 27, 2021. It is noteworthy that during the press conference to announce poll dates, the EC had emphasised its stand against fake news.

It is also noteworthy that this is not the first time Ajmal has been targeted. On December 4, 2020, BJP leader Satya Ranjan Bohra filed a First Information Report (FIR) against his charity Ajmal Foundation, accusing it of getting foreign funding from terror groups. The FIR was filed under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 1204A (sedition) and 420 (cheating) read with Section 13 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). It is also noteworthy that even that FIR was filed after a series of tweets by LRO.

*With inputs from Habibul Bepari.


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