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Cong demands action against Sarma for making 'inflammatory' statements

Cong demands action against Sarma for making 'inflammatory' statements

Guwahati, Jan 25 (PTI) The opposition Congress in Assam wrote to the director general of police (DGP) on Friday, urging him to take action against senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly trying to polarise the state on religious lines by making inflammatory statements.The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which recently snapped ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, also accused the saffron party-led state government of promoting religious separatism.In his letter to the DGP, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Debabrata Saikia demanded that Finance Minister Sarma be booked under sections 153(A) and 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly making "communal statements, promoting enmity between different groups of people and outraging religious feelings".Section 153(A) of the IPC pertains to promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.Section 295(A) of the IPC pertains to deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.Saikia asserted that at a time when protests were raging on in the state against the Citizenship Bill, Sarma's "communal statements" would certainly have a negative impact on the law-and-order situation.The bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before December 31, 2014."Sarma must have forgotten that he became minister by taking an oath to protect the Constitution. Speaking in favour of one kind of law for Hindu illegal immigrants and another for Muslim illegal immigrants, he is not upholding the secular tenet of the Indian Constitution, but disrespecting it," the Congress Legislature Party leader in the state claimed.Sarma was resorting to communal and vote-bank politics in the name of protecting "jati, mati, bheti" (community, land and home), he wrote to the DGP.In the letter, Saikia was apprehensive that the BJP's policy to polarise the different people of Assam on the basis of religion and language had created an environment for communal and fratricidal clashes in the state in the coming days."Therefore, I request that the police suo motu immediately file cases against Himanta Biswa Sarma under sections 153(A) and 295(A), IPC...," the Congress leader wrote to the top cop.Meanwhile, former chief minister and AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said, "The BJP leaders had taken an oath on the Constitution of India and not on the Gita or the Bible. They are now attempting to polarise Assam on the basis of religion."Stating that the AGP had been opposing the bill since 2016, when it was introduced in the Lok Sabha, he said the party had met many opposition leaders to seek their support to oppose the bill in the Rajya Sabha and got their assurance on it.Protests erupted across the state after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8 with students' bodies, political parties and civil society organisations demonstrating against the bill, fearing that it would change the region's demographic pattern, language, culture, heritage, besides violating the historic 1985 Assam Accord. PTI ESB NN RC