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AIUDF Chief Badruddin Ajmal ignites controversy with “we will hold meeting with Kalakshetra” comment

Amid the ongoing controversy over a proposed Miya museum in Assam’s Srimanta Kalakshetra, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) Chief Badruddin Ajmal has triggered another controversy by claiming that his party could soon be holding meetings in the Kalakshetra.

Taking affront at this comment, Assam Cabinet Minister and BJP’s point man in the North East Himanta Biswa Sarma has claimed that if the ‘Grand Alliance’ comprising the Congress and AIUDF comes to power, the cultural and integrity of Assam will be “at stake.” Lashing out at Ajmal, Sarma said, “Our temples and cultural institutions will all be in threat if AIUDF led by Badruddin Ajmal forms the Government.”

“This year they (the BJP) are holding meetings here, next year perhaps we will be holding meetings there,” Ajmal said on the sidelines of a recent election programme. Ajmal’s statement has triggered a massive controversy in Assam, where the Kalakshetra is considered a symbol of the State’s rich culture. Not many people know this, but the Kalakshetra was a culmination of a 6-years long agitation against foreigners in Assam.

The Kalakshetra has been in the discussion ever since Sherman Ali Ahmed, a Congress legislator from Lower Assam’s Baghbar constituency, wrote to the state’s director of museums, requesting him to speed up the construction of a museum “reflecting the culture and heritage of the people living in char-chaporis” within the premises of the Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati.

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Himanta Biswa Sarma, minister in the state cabinet went public with the letter. In a tweet on October 24, Sarma wrote: “In my understanding, there is no separate identity and culture in Char Anchal of Assam as most of the people had migrated from Bangladesh. Obviously, in Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, which is the epitome of Assamese culture, we will not allow any distortion. Sorry MLA sahib.”

The incident sparked off widespread protests across Assam as the char chaporis, the shifting home bars of the Brahmaputra, are largely home to Muslims of Bengali origin.

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