The Assam Police have reportedly contacted several social media websites to verify the authenticity of a poem – that alleged Muslims were being targeted – shared by 10 people on the ongoing citizenship list exercise in the state.
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) seeks to filter out illegal immigrants in Assam.
A journalist from Guwahati in a police complaint against the 10 people, most of them poets, social workers and activists, accused them of hindering the NRC exercise ahead of the release of the final list on July 31.
“The FIR was filed on July 10 and it alleged they are trying to spread communal disharmony ahead of the NRC publication. We are investigating it. We have not arrested anyone. We will take action soon,” Guwahati Police chief Deepak Kumar told NDTV.
Two of the people named in the First Information Report are under the scanner of intelligence agencies for their “doubtful international links”, said a senior intelligence officer, asking not to be named.
“The NRC exercise is very sensitive in Assam, and we have been closely following social media posts. At least two people are there among those 10 who have been under our watch already,” said the officer.
This case is being seen at the highest level, another senior Assam Police officer told NDTV, asking not to be identified.
The 10 people named in the FIR are Hafiz Ahmed, Rehna Sultana, Abdur Rahim, Asharful Hussain, Abdul Kalam Azad, Karishma Hazarika, Kazi Sharowar Hussain, Kazi Neel, Banamallika Choudhury and Farhad Bhuyan.
They have been charged under several sections of the Indian Penal Code including criminal conspiracy and the stringent Information Technology Act.
“We are monitoring social media closely since NRC process is on, so we would act against any attempt of trying to disturb communal harmony. We are investigating the case to see if the allegations are true,” said Mr Kumar.
Miya poetry is based on the colloquial Miya dialect, which has roots in Bangladesh. “…These poems include stories of humiliation and discrimination, love poems, poems spreading social awareness, etc. The current debate over Miyah poetry is baseless because poems written three years ago are now being dissected and a few lines of two poems are being cherry picked and taken out of context. This wilful misreading of cherry picked lines of two poems is malicious and malafide,” the 10 people named in the FIR said in a joint statement.
Senior Journalist Pranabjit Doloi, who filed the police complaint, told NDTV any distortion of history is regrettable. “We are not against poet or poetry but we have opposition to distortion of history. There is no community in Assam called Miya; they are trying to create a new definition. They are trying to show to the rest of the world that Assamese people are xenophobic; this is not correct. This is a wrong portrayal,” Mr Doloi told NDTV.
The Assam citizens’ list is being updated for the first time since 1951 to account for illegal migration into Assam from neighbouring Bangladesh. The excluded people have a chance to file their claims at the designated NRC help centres.
The centre had extended the deadline to complete the ongoing exercise in Assam by one more month to July 30. The process had been extended in December last year by six months to June 30.
Staff Report GTM