BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said in Guwahati that mosque is not a religious place but is just a building that can be demolished any time, in remarks that triggered protests in the state and led to slapping of a criminal case against him.
Swamy cited the “example” of mosques demolished for construction of roads in Saudi Arabia. “A mosque is not a religious place. It is just a building. It can be demolished any time. If anyone disagrees with me on this, I am ready to have a debate on the issue. I got this information from people of Saudi Arabia,” he said at a religious event on Friday night. The BJP leader then went on to claim that all Indian Muslims were Hindus.
He repeated the controversial comments at another function in Guwahati on Saturday.
Protesting Swamy’s comments, a number of organisations in the state on Saturday burnt the effigies of the BJP national executive member. The police also registered an FIR under IPC sections 120 (B) [criminal conspiracy] and 153 (A) [promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion] against Swamy following a complaint by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS).
“Ahead of Assembly elections, the BJP is trying to create communal disturbance in the state. The controversial statement made by Swamy against Muslims is part of this conspiracy. We condemn it and demand Assam government to ban the entry of Subramanian Swamy into the state,” said Akhil Gogoi, KMSS president.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi also slammed Swamy and his party, saying “BJP will have to pay a heavy price for hurting Assamese sentiments”.
Sensing people’s anger, the state BJP tried to distance itself from the remarks. “These are Swamy’s personal statements, not of our party’s. But we will write to our central leadership over this issue,” said Assam BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharyya.
Assam Wakf Board, All Assam Minority Students Union and other Muslim organizations have sought action against Swamy.