FIR against 10 for protest poem in Assam

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: July 12, 2019

The Assam police have registered an FIR against 10 people, including poets, activists and civil society members after a complaint about a poem criticising the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The complainant alleged that the poem suggests that the people of Assam are xenophobic and can lead to disharmony.

Assam PTI
File image of a protest against Assam's controversial NRC. Image: PTI/Swapan Mahapatr

The poem in question composed in what has come to be known as ‘Miya’ style. It is noteworthy that the word ‘Miya’ which literally means ‘gentleman’, had over time become a communal slur. But now, it is being reclaimed by poets as an act of defiance against those who oppress or discriminate against Muslims. The poem written by Kazi Sharowar Hussain talks about exclusion of Muslims from the NRC. An excerpt from the poem is reproduced below:

Write down I am a Miya
My serial number in the NRC is XXXXXXX
I have two children
Another is coming next summer
Will you hate him as you hate me
Write. Write down I am a Miya.
A citizen of a democratic secular republic without any rights.
My mother is a D voter
Though her parents are Indian.
Write. Write I am a Miya of the Brahmaputra
Your torture has burnt my body black
Reddened my eyes with fire
Write. I am a Miya.

The complaint was filed by one Pranabjit Doloi who says, “The accused person’s intention is to depict a picture of Assamese people as xenophobic in the eyes of the whole world, which is a serious threat to the Assamese people, as well as, towards the national security and harmonious social atmosphere. The real intention of this poem is to motivate and provoke their community against the system.”

Apart from Kazi Sharowar Hussain a.k.a Kazi Neel, Doloi has named activists and civil society members Hafiz Ahmed, Rehana Sultana, Abdur Rahim, Ashraful Hussain, Abdul Kalam Azad, Shalim M Hussain, Karishma Hazarika, Banamallika Choudhury and Forhad Bhuyan in his complaint. The complete complaint letter may be read here.

Curiously, the police have not registered any case under charges related to instigation of communal violence and instead filed charges under section 420 (cheating) and 406 (criminal breach of trust). Dharmendra Kumar Das, Dy. Commissioner of Police, Guwahati Central explained, “So far the poem has not led to any communal disharmony. The charges were filed under sections mentioned in the FIR and could be revised based on the findings of our investigation that is still ongoing.”