Assam: Threats by Bajrang Dal on WSS Activist – WSS Statement

April 17, 2017

WSS Condemns Threats by Bajrang Dal on WSS Activist in Assam

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) strongly condemns
the manner in which our member
*Ms Bondita Acharya*, a well known women’s activist from Jorhat, Assam,
is being criminally intimidated, abused in sexual language, defamed and
trolled on her Facebook account only because she expressed her personal
opinion regarding eating of beef, a common practice in her state of Assam,
and opposed targeting of Muslims for the same. She is being threatened with
acid attack, rape and gang rape and issued death threats. It is clear that
the persons making these threats are associated with hindutva organisations
and the Bajrang Dal has even issued a press release demanding a public
apology.

We demand that the complaint she has lodged with the
Superintendent of Police (CID) be immediately registered and strong action
be taken against the perpetrators of threats. Since Ms Bondita Acharya is
also the North East Coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Alert and a
member of Women In Governance, the inactivity of the administration in this
regard is even more serious.

The background of the incident is that 3 Muslim persons including a minor
were arrested on the outskirts of Jorhat town on 7th April 2017 while
returning home with half a kg of beef. It is claimed that they were cooking
the same in a temporary hut at a construction site where they were working.
The arrest has been made under The Assam Cattle Preservation Act of 1950,
which does not criminalize possession or consumption of beef but only lays
down the circumstances under which cattle may be permitted to be
slaughtered. The FIR had been lodged by an active BJP supporter Mridu Pawan
Bora. Many people were critical of this arrest on the social media since
the consumption of beef is common in the North East and not confined to
only the Muslim community. While participating in the conversation, Ms
Bondita Acharya also commented that people even from higher castes of
Hindus consumed beef. Upon this there was a systematic and targeted barrage
of extremely vicious, sexually laden and defamatory posts on social media
regarding Ms Bondita Acharya threatening her with rape, murder, acid
attack, public beating etc.

It is pertinent that the Muslim community is
already a target in Assam on account of criminalizing Muslim refugees from
Bangladesh even while an exercise to grant citizenship to Hindu refugees is
going on. WSS expresses serious concern at the deliberate efforts to
communalise society by the Hindutva organisations and the newly elected BJP
government and the consequences this will have upon the freedom and
security of women of all communities.

Sudha Bhardwaj, Kalpana Mehta, Bittu, Rinchin, Kalyani Menon, Nisha Biswas
and Ranjana Padhi