Assam has become a hotbed of jihadi activities with five modules having links to Bangladesh-based terror outfit Ansarul Islam busted in the last five months, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference, Sarma said six Bangladeshi nationals belonging to Ansarul Islam had entered Assam to indoctrinate youths, and one of them was arrested when the first module was busted at Barpeta in March.
"Earlier, there were isolated incidents but it is not so any longer. The matter is serious and the police along with central agencies are maintaining strict vigilance," he said.
Indoctrination of Muslim youths in private madrasas by imams from outside the state is alarming, he said.
"Jihadi activity is very different from terrorist or insurgency activities. It starts with indoctrination for several years, followed by active participation in promoting Islamic fundamentalism, and finally leads to subversive activities," Sarma said.
The Ansarul Islam is affiliated with the Al-Qaeda and its terror mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri mentioned about jihad in Assam recently, which "proves that the state is definitely on their radar", he said.
The Bangladeshi nationals, "who entered the state illegally" in 2016-17, operated several training camps during the COVID-19 pandemic, he claimed.
"Only one of these Bangladeshis has been arrested so far, and I appeal to the people to inform the local police in case anybody from outside the state becomes a teacher or an imam in a madrasa so that the verification can be carried out," Sarma said.
"We still don't know how many more such nationals have entered the state," he said.
The police will issue a toll-free number soon and the identity of the person giving information will be kept a secret, the chief minister said.
"Several books and videos related to jihad have been recovered from the madrasas and the arrested persons with links to the Ansarul Islam," he said.
Besides, financial dealings and highly sophisticated communication technology used by the arrested persons in their dealings with the outfit have come to the fore during investigations, Sarma said.
"The outfit works in a very compartmentalised manner with one module not knowing about the other," he said.
"The hub of activities of all these modules as of now are in the madrasas and their target is extreme radicalisation with the aim to wage a war against the state to establish the rule of Sharia," he said.
It is the ''peace-loving Muslims" who are providing information to the police and it is wrong to spread the idea that people of a particular religion are being targeted by the state, Sarma claimed.
The government madrasas have been abolished in the state and it is in some of the private ones that such activities have been detected so far, he said.
"It is the children of the poorest of the poor who study in these private madrasas and I urge the local people to keep a tab on what the teachers are teaching there," he said.
"The PFI along with other so-called liberals and secularists have created a sentiment that Muslims are victimised which creates a fertile ground for radicalisation of youths of the community," he said.