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Assam Congress MLA arrested for making communal statements

Guwahati: Assam Congress MLA Aftabuddin Mollah was on Wednesday arrested for his alleged ‘hate speech’ targeting a community at a public meeting, a senior police official said.

The opposition lawmaker was picked up on Tuesday night from the residence of another Congress legislator at the MLA Quarters here for interrogation, Guwahati Police Commissioner Diganta Barah said.

Mollah had reportedly made some objectionable remarks at a public meeting meeting last week wherein he had allegedly said that a particular type of crime is committed by one group of people of a specific community.

The video of the meeting went viral on the social media and created an outrage. It lead to the filing of a number of police complaints at various places.

“We received a complaint alleging that the person concerned made some inciting and provocative statements at a public meeting on November 6. It claimed that he tried to create enmity between two communities and thereby created tension,” Barah told reporters here.

After preliminary investigation, a case was registered at Dispur police station and Mollah was detained for interrogation, Barah said.

“I would also like to state here that as per a Supreme Court order the police have to act immediately after receipt of a complaint of hate speech. If police do not receive any complaint, then it has to act suo motu,” he said on the police action.

An officer of Dispur police station told PTI that Mollah, the MLA of Jaleswar constituency, was arrested on Wednesday morning under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

The FIR was lodged under sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) of the IPC, he said.

“We have produced him before the court and sought police remand. The hearing is on,’ the official said.

Reacting to the arrest, Congress MLA Jakir Hussain Sikdar alleged that Mollah was victimised at a time when many political leaders, especially those from the ruling BJP have made ‘even more serious communal statements’ and police have not taken any note of those.

“Mollah had immediately apologised to the people of Assam. He also explained why he had to make that statement. I think the matter should have ended there,” Sikdar said.

“We don’t want anyone to make such statements on any person or community. But we also hope that police will take action on other such law violators,” he added.

Raijor Dal MLA Akhil Gogoi alleged that police has acted in a ‘partisan manner’ in arresting the Congress MLA when AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal ‘makes more serious derogatory and communal remarks on a daily basis’.

“It is good that the police have acted in this case. But it should also act in other cases when BJP and AIUDF leaders make such communal statements,” he added.

(Published 08 November 2023, 12:12 IST)

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