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Politics heats up over controversial speech at Shaheen Bagh

PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2020 11:18 PM IST

New Delhi

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday engaged in a war of words over a video clip which shows Sharjeel Imam, who is known as one of the organisers of Shaheen Bagh protests, giving a call to cut off Assam from the rest of India. While BJP targeted the AAP on its stand over the protest, the AAP hit back questioning why the government has not taken action in the matter.

The protesters of Shaheen Bagh also issued a statement, disassociating themselves from Sharjeel Imam’s comments and stressed that the speech was not given in Shaheen Bagh.

A video featuring Imam went viral on social media on Saturday. In the video, Imam is seen saying, “If we have 5 lakh organised people then we can permanently cut north-east from India or at least for one month…It is our responsibility to isolate Assam from India, then only they will listen to us.”

HT could not independently check the veracity of the video clip.

BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra termed the speech made by Sharjeel Imam as “disturbing” and “seditious” and alleged that “some kind of conspiracy” against India was “brewing” in Shaheen Bagh.

“We now have evidence for some kind of conspiracy brewing in Shaheen Bagh to finish off India’s independence. They are calling for cutting off the entire Northeast region from India. These things show that Shaheen Bagh has become a ‘Directionless Bagh (Dishaheen Bagh)’ or a ‘Shame Bagh’,” Patra said at a press conference.

He said that the speech contained anti-national substance and it is a matter of concern and “amounts to sedition”.

“I want to ask Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal that why he stands with the people who want to split the country?” Patra asked.

Responding to BJP’s allegations, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia slammed BJP for not taking any action in the matter and gave it an ultimatum to arrest the accused within 24 hours; else “it can be thought that he is giving such statements as part of your plan”.

“A person is talking about cutting off Assam from the rest of India, and the BJP is doing press conferences instead of arresting him or taking some action. I give BJP 24 hours to arrest and jail the accused or then it can be thought that he is giving such statements as part of your plan,” Sisodia told reporters.

He further said, “Arrest him or tell the country that you are unable to arrest such a person who talks about dividing the country. Tell the country that you were unsuccessful in arresting him.”

Later in the evening, the protesters of Shaheen Bagh issued a statement and stressed that “no such speech” was given at the protest site.

“It warrants repetition that neither the contentious statement in question not the speech were ever delivered at or around Shaheen Bagh. We disassociate ourselves from any such narratives and establish yet again that there is no organizing committee at Shaheen Bagh, no leader, nor any one particular organizer,” the statement read.

Imam could not be contacted as his phone was switched off.

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