The political landscape in Assam intensified on Monday as the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] and an independent Rajya Sabha MP filed police complaints against Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. They accused the prominent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader of delivering a "hate speech" directed at the 'Miya' community, referring to Bengali-speaking Muslims in Assam, as reported by PTI.
Adding to the mounting pressure, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of Assam addressed a letter to Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, urging judicial action against Sarma for his remarks targeting the 'Miya' community. The TMC highlighted the potential repercussions of such a speech, claiming that it could incite communal hatred.
Notably, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) leader and Lok Sabha MP, Badruddin Ajmal, also faced allegations of making a 'hate speech' in relation to comments about the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Observers from opposition parties, including the Congress, interpreted these incidents as evidence of communal politics, suggesting a possible alliance between the BJP and the AIUDF ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The controversy stems from Sarma's response to questions about high vegetable prices in Guwahati. In his remarks, Sarma compared the pricing strategies of 'Miya' vendors with those of Assamese vendors, insinuating that the former exploited their own people. Ajmal's comments regarding the UCC further fueled the tensions.
Activists from the 'Miya' community have historically considered the term derogatory, but in recent years, some have reclaimed and embraced it as an act of defiance.
Independent Rajya Sabha MP Ajit Bhuyan, who lodged a complaint against Sarma at the Dispur police station, described the statements by constitutional functionaries as hate speeches that aimed to create divisions among various communities in the state and harm national integration. Bhuyan emphasized the need for an investigation into the matter based on a recent Supreme Court directive regarding hate speech cases.
The CPI(M) also joined the fray by filing a complaint at the Latasil police station against Sarma, accusing him of making hate speeches that could cause divisions and tensions between religious communities. They included Ajmal in their complaint, citing his recent comment about the UCC. The party urged the authorities to take action against both politicians under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code that address promoting enmity, malicious acts, and assertions prejudicial to national integration.
While the police have received the complaints, they have yet to register a First Information Report (FIR) against Chief Minister Sarma. However, tensions continue to rise, with Assam TMC President Ripun Bora writing to Chief Justice Chandrachud, requesting action against Sarma for his alleged hate speech against the 'Miya' community. Bora emphasized that the Assam government should have taken proactive measures to initiate a case in response to the incident, even suggesting the possibility of suo motu contempt proceedings.