An alleged incident of some RSS trainees raising “objectionable” slogans from atop the Kareng Ghar, an 18th-century palace which is now an ASI-protected monument, near Sivasagar last week has triggered protests, with the Congress asking the government to take legal steps against the group for misusing it.
While the alleged incident occurred on December 24, protests began after some visuals went viral in social media two days later.
“The Kareng Ghar is one of the very few Centrally-protected monuments in Assam and a symbol of Assam’s secular identity. The participants of a RSS training session in the Kareng Ghar premises and chanting slogans from the heritage site amounts to misusing it as defined in the Rules for Protected Monuments of ASI,” Debabrata Saikia, Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Assembly, in a letter to Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma on Thursday here said.
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Invoking the ASI rules, Saikia said a person found misusing a protected monument could be punished with imprisonment up to three months, or fined Rs 5,000 or both.
The Kareng Ghar, a royal palace of the Ahom kings located at Garhgaon, about 15 km from Sivasagar, was first built in 1540 by the then king Swargadeo Suklengmung. It was given the present shape during Swargadeo Surampha’s reign in 1752.
According to allegations raised by the All Tai Ahom Students’ Union (ATASU), local units of Asom Jatiyabadi Yuva-Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) and a few other groups, the RSS trainees climbed atop the monument and raised various “objectionable and communal” slogans which were against the principles of the Ahom kings who were instrumental established a secular society in Assam.
“The RSS trainees climbed atop the protected monument and raised slogans like ‘Hindu-Hindu bhai-bhai’, which is definitely against the social norms of Assam, particularly because the Ahom kings had played a major role in establishing a secular society,” ATASU president Litul Buragohain said.
He also dared the RSS to raise such slogans on the Tajmahal or Qutub Minar premises.
Meanwhile, an RSS official in Guwahati said there was nothing “objectionable” in the RSS trainees shouting some slogans from atop the historic Kareng Ghar. Most of the trainees were between 12 and 15 years of age, he said.
“The 76 participants of a seven-day primary training camp took part in a cleanliness drive in the Kareng Ghar on December 24, after which they went up the palace with due permission from the authorities. They indeed raised ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ and ‘Hindu-Hindu bhai-bhai’ slogans. But these are not anti-national or communal slogans,” Ranjib Sharma, an RSS spokesman said.