Assam Congress MLA held for ‘communally provocative’ remarks


Assam Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed was detained on Saturday evening, a day after his party served show-cause notice to him for his “communally provocative” comments referring to the September 23 violence, which claimed two lives and injured 20 others after a mob clashed with the police during an eviction drive in Darrang district of the state.

The 54-year-old three-time legislator justified the killing of eight people in Darrang district around 40 years ago during the Assam agitation.

Ahmed was elected to the state assembly from Baghbar seat in Barpeta district of western Assam. He made the “communally provocative” comments last week, triggering a widespread political controversy across the state with various organisations lodging complaints at different police stations, forcing the police to detain him from his official residence in Guwahati.

“The MLA has been detained and we are examining all legal aspect then we would decide about his arrest,” a police officer said.

Many parties and civil society organisations have been organising demonstrations during the past one week in many districts demanding action against him.

Asking Ahmed to reply to the show-cause notice within three days, Assam Congress General Secretary Bobbeeta Sharma on Friday said that the MLA’s “provocative comments and statements” have damaged the reputation and credibility of the AICC and the state Congress.

“You are acting as an ‘agent of the BJP’ due to your closeness to the Chief Minister (Himanta Biswa Sarma). You might have been sponsored to make such provocative and communal comments to cause harm to the Congress, especially ahead of the by-elections in the state,” Sharma told Ahmed.

Sharma, who is also the Chief spokesperson of the Congress in Assam, in her notice in Assamese said : “As an MLA, your provocative comments in the media, reviving old wounds of the past incidents of Assam agitation when people of various communities had suffered, are totally insensitive and unwarranted.”

Assam’s opposition leader Debabrata Saikia, also a senior Congress leader, in a separate statement said that Ahmed’s comments and communal statements would definitely affect peace and harmony in the state, besides hurting the basic principles of the party.

Ruling BJP’s ally the Asom Gana Parishad, born out of the Assam agitation, held demonstrations in different districts, including Dibrugarh, Barpeta, Mangaldoi, Dhemaji, Tezpur, Biswanath, Nalbari, Bongaigaon, Majuli and Morigaon, and burnt effigies of Ahmed.

Ahmed, a former MLA of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), a Muslim-based party and joined the Congress several years back, got elected to the state Assembly thrice from Baghbar assembly seat, where Muslim constitute 96 per cent of the total population.

The Muslim leader apparently made the comments while reacting to media reports that the alleged encroachers at Gorukhuti (Sipajhar) in Darrang district disrespected the memory of those who died during the 1983 Assam agitation.

While reacting to the eviction related violence, Ahmed last week had made “communally provocative” comments accusing the “encroachers of Darrang district” for the killing of eight people in 1983 during the peak of the Assam agitation (1979-1985).

Two persons, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed and 20 others were injured after a mob clashed with the police during an eviction drive in Assam’s Darrang district on September 23.

The eviction drive was launched on September 20 and 23 by the police and the district administration to vacate 4,500 bighas (602.40 hectares) of government land, allegedly illegally encroached by several hundreds of Bengali-speaking Muslim families in Darrang.