The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Priests asked to stay clear of VHP

Guwahati, June 9: The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) today appealed to the satras to disassociate themselves from “communal forces” while calling for a ban on public meetings by “communal leaders” like the VHP’s Praveen Togadia and Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind’s Asad Madani.

The apex students’ organisation was reacting to satradhikar (head priest) of Majuli-based Auniati Satra pitambar Deva Goswami sharing the dais at a Hindu congregation from where VHP’s international secretary Togadia churned out a “highly provocative speech against minority communities” while advocating the scrapping of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act yesterday.

AASU adviser Sammujjal Bhattacharyya told a news conference here today that it would not allow anyone to shatter the foundation of communal harmony and appealed to satradhikars (head priests) not to allow “communal forces” to influence their ideology.

The satras propagate the Vaishnavite philosophy of 16th century saint Srimanta Sankardev and have severed ties with the radical Hinduism of the VHP.

Togadia yesterday declared that the VHP would launch an Ayodhya-type agitation against the Bangladeshi Muslim migrants in Assam and distribute one lakh tridents in the state to ensure that every village in Assam has one along with a namghar (prayer hall).

Madani had earlier strongly opposed any move to scrap the Act.

The AASU said both Togadia and Madani, who had never been part of its six-year-long anti-foreigners movement, must desist from commenting on the IM(DT) Act and dubbed their statements on the issue as highly provocative and detrimental to the state’s communal harmony.

Disagreeing with Togadia who had said yesterday that the AASU’s campaign had failed as it was not a united movement of the Hindus, Bhattacharyya said the movement was successful only because it was secular in character.

“We want the Act repealed by taking into confidence both Hindus and Muslims. Our stand is very clear — we want all infiltrators who came to Assam after March 25, 1971, detected and deported, irrespective of their religious faith,” he said.

Hoping for an amicable solution to the problem, AASU president Amiyo Kumar Bhuyan said the students’ organisation has gathered support from different minority organisations, including the Muslim Yuba Chatra Parishad to repeal the IM(DT) Act.

He said the AASU was working along with the minority organisations to prepare a national register of citizens taking March 25, 1971 as the cut-off year.

The United Minorities Front (UMF) has also advocated a “united and rational” approach to resolve the issue.

The AASU will take out a procession on June 12 in all districts and sub-divisional headquarters to mobilise support for the repeal of the Act.

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