Bengali Outfit That Attacked AASU Changes Name As Leader Absconds

Subodh Biswas, who allegedly inspired the mob with hate speech, remains absconding, while 27 people have been taken into custody.

New Delhi:  The Nikhil Bharat Bengali Udbastu Samannay Samiti (NBBUSS), the Nagpur-based Hindu Bengali organisation, has changed its name – at least on its Facebook page – to Bengali Samaj Sangathan Samiti. The organisation had allegedly led an attack on the All Assam Students Union (AASU) on March 6. AASU has called for a 24-hour state-wide bandh on March 10 following the attack on its office at Silapathar in Dhemaji district.

Although the group changed its name on Thursday, March 9, the contents of the Facebook page have remained the same.

Earlier on Thursday, speaking to local reporters, state director general of police Mukesh Sahay said, “NBBUSS has already been barred from holding any meeting in the state and investigation will also be made into the source of funding of the organisation”. The sudden change of name seems to have been done keeping these issues in mind.

NBBUSS national president Subodh Biswas, who allegedly provoked the public to commit violence by delivering an inflammatory speech at the March 6 meeting in Silapathar town, is absconding. Besides carrying out search operations in the district, the police has announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh to anyone providing information about his whereabouts. Sahay said the neighbouring states have also been alerted about Biswas.

NBBUSS, claims to be “the voice of 3.5 crore Bengali Hindus” living in 18 states of the country on its Facebook page. The organisation has been spearheading a movement across the country in support of the Narendra Modi government’s attempt to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant Indian citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis, among others, on religious grounds. Biswas is said to be close to the RSS. Photographs of him with some national leaders of the BJP have also been flashed on the screens of local news channels.

At the March 6 meeting in Silapathar, Biswas, along with other speakers from Nagpur and Delhi, rejected the Assam Accord signed by the Centre in 1985 with the AASU and the Assam Gana Sangram Parishad, According to the accord, any person – Hindu or a Muslim – who entered the state from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971, would be declared a foreigner and be deported. If the Modi government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, tabled in the Lok Sabha in July 2016, becomes an Act, it would clash with the accord – which is why any progress on the Bill has not been possible.

Following the meeting, the NBBUSS took out a rally in Silapathar, which reportedly went out of control. The mob attacked the local AASU office and vandalised the column made in memory of those who died during the students’ agitation, and damaged portraits of the state’s cultural icons Bhupen Hazarika and Jyoti Prasad Agarwala.

After the incident created a state-wide uproar, leading many student, civil society groups and pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom to join the AASU in its condemnation, the state government announced that it would form a one-man inquiry commission under additional chief secretary V.B. Pyarelal who would submit his report in a month’s time.

The state-wide bandh by AASU is also to demand the immediate implementation of the Assam Accord and to reject the Centre’s move to amend the Act on religious grounds.

So far, 27 people have reportedly been taken into custody for the March 6 violence.

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