Ajmal apologises for 'hurting sentiments'; parties link his comments to Gujarat polls
Guwahati, Dec 4: AIUDF Supremo and Lok Sabha MP from Assam Badruddin Ajmal has apologised for his remarks purportedly targeting the Hindu community, and said he was 'ashamed' of the controversy it stoked, even as police complaints were lodged against him across the state.
He, however, maintained that his comments were twisted and he had not targeted any community.
Ajmal's political detractors were however quick to link his remarks to the Gujarat Assembly poll and alleged that the AIUDF chief was toeing the BJP line to "rescue" the right-wing party, which is seeking to retain power in the western state.
The TMC burnt his effigy here, alleging collusion with the saffron party as the reason behind Ajmal's controversial remarks. The BJP, however, distanced itself from Ajmal, whose party sits in the Opposition in the state.
"I have not targeted any individual, nor used the term 'Hindu'. I didn't want to break anyone's heart," he told reporters at Hojai Railway Station in central Assam.
"But it became an issue and I am sorry for it, I am ashamed of it. It shouldn't have happened with a senior person like me," Ajmal said on Saturday, while claiming that his comments were "twisted".
On police cases against him over the issue, the Dhubri MP downplayed it and said "police cases push politicians' graph upwards".
"Many Hindu leaders speak daily against Muslims, but we haven't filed cases against them," he added.
He said equal development and rights for everyone was at the core of his comments, which were given a different tone.
Ajmal in an interview to a media house on Friday had commented on women and Hindu men as well as Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, purportedly as a response to Sarma's remarks on 'love jihad'.
The AIDUF chief, who is revered as a 'Maulana', courted controversy by reportedly advising Hindus to marry young to produce more children like Muslims.
The Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) filed police complaints against the AIUDF chief in different parts of the state on Saturday.
It's state vice-president Dulu Ahmed filed the complaint at Hatigaon police station here, while similar complaints were also filed in Hailakandi and Dhubri.
The police confirmed receiving the complaint and said investigation has been started in the matter.
Ahmed demanded immediate action against Ajmal for his comments as it has led to "widespread reaction and could ignite communal violence".
Criticising Ajmal's initial comments, BJP spokesperson Ranjib Sarma said Ajmal and his ilk view women as mere objects. "The words he has used against our chief minister should be challenged by the entire civilized society" he said, adding that he was also demanding that Ajmal be stripped of his 'maulana' title.
Sarma also questioned the timing of the comments as it came on a day when a committee formed by the Assam government to look into problems of Satras (Vaishnavite monasteries) had submitted its interim report.
The report pointed to largescale encroachment of Satra land mostly by migrant Muslims who form Ajmal's vote bank, the BJP spokesperson claimed.
State Congress president Bhupen Bora was however quick to sniff a conspiracy between Ajmal and the chief minister in creating the "controversy". Ajmal and Himanta Biswa Sarma are conspiring together to divert attention from the core issues faced by people and to keep them engaged elsewhere, he maintained.
Leader of the Opposition in state Assembly Debabrata Saikia (Cong) also maintained that there is need to look into whether there is any connection between BJP and AIUDF leading to Ajmal's comments.
"The Assam police should take suo moto cognisance against Ajmal for not only the remarks against women and a community, but also for the specific comments against the chief minister," he said.
Raijor Dal general secretary Azizur Rahman questioned why Ajmal, who hails from a Bengali Muslim family, chose to speak in Hindi during the interview.
"Gujarat assembly election is on, and BJP's boat is sinking there. BJP needs religious polarisation to save itself and it has enlisted Ajmal for its rescue. That's why he spoke in Hindi," he said.
The Trinamool Congress staged a demonstration in front of its office here and burnt an effigy of Ajmal.
"We will not tolerate such comments against women and Hindus. Ajmal is saying these things at the dictates of BJP with an eye on the Gujarat polls. We demand his immediate arrest," the party's spokesperson Dilip Sharma said.