A private madrasa was demolished in Assam on Thursday, nine days after its founder was arrested for his alleged links with the banned terror outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) of Bangladesh.
Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, while sharing details of five ABT modules being busted in the state since March, said the madrasa that was set up in 2018 at Sahariagoan in Morigaon district was demolished by adhering to all legal formalities.
Sarma said the madrasa was set up “without” the permission of the local panchayat, had acquired an electricity connection illegally and the structure was “highly dangerous” for human habitation.
He said the 54 students of the demolished madrasa had been over the past few days admitted to regular schools nearby with the “active support” of their parents.
Mufti Mustafa, 32, used to run and teach at the demolished madrasa and also teach at a nearby madrasa. He was arrested on July 27 from Sahariagaon and booked under various sections of the anti-terror law UAPA for his alleged links with the ABT.
The ABT is affiliated to the al Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Bangladesh banned the ABT in 2015.
“The DC (deputy commissioner) Morigaon passed the orders (for demolition) and thereafter we demolished it after observing all legal formalities. Earlier, we had sealed the madrasa,” Sarma said.
District officials said the madrasa, around 100km east of Guwahati, was razed between 8.30am and 12.30pm in an operation that involved around 70 people and one JCB.
“There was no protest from any quarter. It was carried out under the District Disaster Management Authority based on a report submitted by the PWD’s buildings department. It was unfit for human habitation,” an official said.
Chief minister Sarma said the situation in Assam was worrisome vis-a-vis “jihadi” forces and that it had been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the state was “becoming a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalists”.
Six ABT members are believed to have entered Assam in 2017-18, of whom one was arrested in March this year. The whereabouts of the remaining are unknown, Sarma said.
So far 29 ABT leaders and cadres have been arrested in Assam.
Sarma said the ABT was targeting educated people, citing the example of Mustafa who is a doctorate in Islamic law from Bhopal.
Sarma said Mustafa was in touch with ABT members
and had hosted some, was highly tech savvy and had received a lot of funds in small amounts so as not to raise eyebrows.
The chief minister said the police had busted ABT sleeper cells in Barpeta, Bongaigaon and Morigaon and recovered jihadi literature used for indoctrinating and radicalising youths. High-end electronic devices used by the ABT members have been seized during raids, Sarma said.
Requesting the minorities to cooperate with the authorities to stave off “the threat posed by jihadi forces”, Sarma said a “close watch has to be kept on imams and madrasa teachers who are not from the state of Assam” and that locals should regularly visit the madrasas to check what was being taught.
Assam in 2021 converted around 800 government madrasas into regular schools. There are over 1,800 private madrasas in the state.
Sarma repeatedly said most of the arrests made were based on information provided by Muslims and that their support was needed “to overcome the threat posed by jihadis”.
Sarma said a toll-free number would be announced soon so that locals can provide information about any unknown person or suspicious movement in their areas.