Himanta Biswa Sarma says BJP will send Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed to jail after Assam polls for 'lungi' remark

Himanta Biswa Sarma says BJP will send Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed to jail after Assam polls for ‘lungi’ remark

Ahmed had recently suggested setting up a ‘Miyan Museum’ inside the Kalakshetra in Guwahati, and had said that one of the items on display would be blue-checked lungis worn by Bengali Muslims settled in the riverine areas of lower and cenral Assam

File image of Himanta Biswa Sarma

Guwahati: Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed, who created controversy by speaking of a ‘Miyan Museum’ in the precincts of the Srimanta Kalakshetra in Guwahati, will be sent to jail in Assam for his “audacious comments” if BJP returns to power in the upcoming Assembly poll, state minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday. He also lashed out at the Congress for “eyeing” the Kalakshetra since the protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act in Assam.

Ahmed had demanded that the ‘Miyan Museum’ be set up inside the Kalakshetra after the standing committee of Assam Assembly proposed the setting up of a ‘Char Chapori‘ (riverine) Museum. The ‘Miya Museum’, Ahmed had said, would exhibit the culture and traditions of Bengali Muslims of erstwhile East Bengal who have settled in the riverine areas of lower and central Assam.

“Ahmed when asked what could be exhibited in the Miya Museum had the audacity to say blue lungis (a sarong like garment wrapped around the waist). He will not be forgiven for making such a statement which is an insult to our revered Vaishnav gurus Sankardeva and Madhavdeva”, Sarma told a press conference in Guwahati.

The minister also said that the MLA will not be spared and after the elections. “He will be sent to jail if he does not publicly apologise,” he said.

“This is a commitment I am making to the people of Assam,” Sarma said.

Asked why the NDA government in the state will wait till after the elections and not deal with the Congress MLA now, Sarma retorted: “If we do so now, he (Ahmed) will get a few more votes in the Assembly elections and we do not want him to get that advantage.”

He said, “After he (Ahmed) said this I could not sleep the whole night. His place is in jail where he will definitely go.”

The men in the riverine areas usually wear blue-checked lungis. “We would have understood if he had said that the Char Chapori (riverine) museum would exhibit fishing equipment, fishing nets, music and the riverine culture of the fishermen but using the word ‘lungi‘ in connection with the Kalakshetra cannot be accepted in any way… The Assamese are very sensitive about both Sankardeva and Madhavdeva,” Sarma asserted.

Another Congress MLA Kamalakhya De Purkayastha has now demanded that a ‘Bengali Museum’ be set up inside the Kalakshetra. Referring to it, Sarma said he has noticed that the congress is eyeing the Kalakshetra since the protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act when it was damaged.

“Now these insensitive demands are being made… Anybody with a little knowledge of Assam’s culture and traditions will not make such demands or statements.

“Any Assamese will not demand that a photograph or idol of Devi Kamakhya, representing the Shakti cult, be put up inside the Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, a repository of Vaishnav culture and traditions,” he said. Sarma said it is unfortunate that such “insensitive statements” are coming from the Congress in which he had started his political career and spent his youth.

Sarma had been a minister in the Tarun Gogoi government before he defected to the BJP. Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra is a cultural institution set up as part of the Assam Accord and named after the medieval reformer saint.

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