Magisterial probe ordered into Assam EVM row

Karimganj/Hailakandi (Assam), Apr 3 

A magisterial probe has been ordered to determine why a polling team in Assam carried an EVM in a vehicle owned by the wife of a BJP candidate, officials said on Saturday.

Karimganj District Deputy Superintendent Anbamuthan MP issued an order on Friday night to probe the incident, which has snowballed into a huge controversy amid the ongoing Assam assembly elections, the last phase of which is slated for Tuesday.

Additional District Magistrate Rajeshan Terang has been asked to conduct the enquiry and submit a detailed report within three days.

"... This incident posed a threat to security of the polled EVMs and has an adverse effect on the law and order situation," the order said.

The probe will also find out the circumstances leading to the poll party travelling in a private vehicle, and ascertain whether there was any lapse or conspiracy on the part of the authorities.

Violence had broken out on the outskirts of Karimganj town on Thursday night after a crowd spotted a BJP candidate's vehicle being used to transport a polled EVM to the strong room, prompting the police to fire in the air to bring the situation under control.

The poll team from Ratabari constituency claimed that its official vehicle broke down midway, forcing them to ask for a lift from a passing vehicle, which turned out to be that of the wife of BJP's Patharkandi candidate.

Sitting MLA Krishnendu Paul is the BJP candidate from the Patharkandi seat, while Ratabari is currently represented by his party MLA Bijoy Malakar, who is contesting the election as well.

Ratabari and Patharkandi constituencies went to the polls in the second phase on Thursday.

The Election Commission has suspended four election officials and ordered repolling at the booth.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also sought an inquiry by the commission.

Meanwhile, police arrested at least six persons for allegedly live streaming the violence that had erupted after the incident, and inciting the mob to attack the private vehicle in which the poll party was travelling with three units of the EVM from 149 Indira MV School in Ratabari.

"We are identifying the people who were seen attacking the vehicle in the videos... more arrests are likely," a senior police official said.

Opposition Congress and the AIUDF have slammed the authorities for the incident, and alleged that the EVM was being "stolen".

Demanding an explanation and immediate action, Assam Congress chief Ripun Bora said the party will consider boycotting the election if "this open loot and rigging of EVMs" does not stop immediately.

Assam Assembly passes Bill to repeal Provincialisation of Madrassas in State

Guwahati: The Bill to repeal Provincialisation of Madrassas in the state of Assam has been passed by State Assembly in the 3-day Winter Session on Wednesday.

All Madrassas, being run under government stands will now be converted into regular educational institutes from April 1, 2021.

Notably, the Bill proposes to abolish two existing acts -- The Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation) Act, 1995 and The Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation of Services of Employees and Re-Organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018.

Informing about the matter, State Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took to Twitter saying, “Glad that the Bill pertaining to repeal of Provincialisation of Madrassas has been passed, even as @INCAssam and @AIUDFOfficial expectedly staged a walkout in Assembly. All Madrassas, being run under government stands converted into regular educational institute wef April 1, 2021.”

Earlier, AIUDF legislators walked out of the Assam Assembly on Monday over the Government’s decision to shut down Madrassa in the state.

The leaders of the AIUDF as they walked out of the session demanded the withdrawal of the bill saying, “India is a secular nation and there are no differences between a school and the ‘Madrassa’. The State Government is trying to taking political mileage by using the Arabic wording ‘Madrassa’ and polarize the vote ahead of the assembly elections."

Also Read: Congress, AIUDF leaders walk out of Winter Assembly Session

Pvt Madrassas Will Never be Shut Down, these keep "Muslims Alive": Assam Deputy Speaker

Assam Assembly Deputy Speaker and senior BJP chief Aminul Haque Laskar has mentioned that personal madrassas won’t ever be shut down as “these have kept the Muslims alive”.

Earlier, the Assam government has decided to close all state-run madrassas and a notification to this effect is likely to be issued this month.

“Has any madrassa been closed down? These madrassas won’t ever be shut down as these have saved the Muslims alive,” he mentioned, whereas laying the inspiration stone for a madrassa in Cachar district on Sunday.

“Maulanas and qazis have come out from these madrassas. Imams of mosques have studied in these madrassas. They have never been shut down,” he said.

Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has announced that all the state-run madrassas will be shut down as the government cannot support any religious education in a secular society, leading to sharp political reactions from the opposition.

“If madrassas are closed down, then do protest. When Congress protests closing of madrassas by the BJP authorities, then inform them that solely authorities madrassas shall be closed down,” the deputy speaker mentioned.

Laskar further added that the closing of presidency madrassas will in no way impression the Muslim neighborhood’s non secular preaching.

“No one has ever come out from a authorities madrassa and joined a masjid. The opposition Congress and AIUDF are solely doing politics over the difficulty,” he instructed.