Established in 2018, the Jamiul Huda Madrassa in Moirabari of Morigaon district in Assam was bulldozed on the morning of August 4. This is the third instance where the state government has used bulldozers on properties of perpetrators of crimes, the previous two being in Batadrava and Dibrugarh. However, this is for the first time that a madrassa has been demolished on account of its alleged link to anti-national activities.
According to Aparna N, superintendent of police, Morigaon, the Jamiul Huda Madrassa was demolished under the Disaster Management Act and UAPA. 43 students of the madrassa are now admitted to different schools.
Mufti Mustafa, a doctorate in Islamic Law from Bhopal, started the madrassa after his father’s name. The madrassa made headlines when Morigaon police arrested Mufti Mustafa over his alleged links with the Ansarullah Bangla Team, an affiliate of al-Qaeda based out of Bangladesh. The madrassa was sealed by district authorities. Along with Mustafa, another teacher, his brother and wife, as well as 19 students of the madrassa were interrogated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is now probing the Morigaon module of the ABT, by far the most crucial of the five modules busted by Assam police in the past five months, say officials.
Addressed a press conference at Janata Bhawan to brief media on the 5 jihadi modules of Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Indian subcontinent (AQIS), busted by @assampolice during the past 5 months.
29 ABT leaders/cadres have been arrested so far. pic.twitter.com/QesEvhGvrI
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) August 4, 2022
Investigation into the Morigaon module and Mustafa’s involvement revealed the use of sophisticated electronic gadgets and Taliban videos to indoctrinate the students of the madrassa and beyond. In this connection, a Banat Madrassa from the same area and another in Dhing of Nagaon district, where Mustafa either taught or visited at some point of time, have also been sealed.
At least seven Bangladeshi nationals have visited the Jamiul Huda Madrassa since 2019, including an absconding ATB Bangladesh linkman, officials say.
Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that Assam police has apprehended one Bangladeshi national ATB operative Suman from Barpeta and another five are at large.
“We have busted five modules of Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a banned terror outfit of Bangladesh with links to al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), in the past four months,” Sarma said while addressing a press conference. “Inputs provided by those arrested helped bust terror modules in West Bengal, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. All this was done with the active cooperation and coordination of national security agencies.”
It has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that Assam is becoming a hotbed for Islamic fundamentalists, said the CM. “When you bust 5 modules and the whereabouts of the other 5 Bangladeshi nationals are still not known, then you can imagine the gravity,” he said. “We have already abolished 800 government madrassas in Assam. But there are many Qawmi madrassas in the state. The citizens, parents should keep watch on these madrassas and what type of subjects are taught there.”
The NIA team which is now in Barpeta is in search of two ABT operatives who have been active in the area. In the ABT module, the investigating team has come across several financial transactions made from Bangladesh and from a couple of people who were arrested in Bangladesh over links with ATB.
Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, director general of police, earlier expressed concern, saying that al-Qaeda is a reality in Assam and spreading its footprints alarmingly. The organisation had released its quarterly magazine in Bangla, making its intentions loud and clear. Special DG of Assam police GP Singh has been monitoring the arrests and module operations personally.
The chief minister stated that Ansarullah Bangla Team enhanced its activities and drive in Assam during the Covid pandemic when the administration and police were busy handling the crisis.
“The most important fact is that in the Morigaon Module, a book named Kitab Ul Jihad, Eid Barta, has been seized. It’s not necessary that imparting knowledge about explosives is dangerous, making human bombs by indoctrination of jihad is even more precarious,” added Sarma. “These people were working as preachers in mosques—as a cover job—their aim was to wage jihad against India and establish ‘shariat’ law. Several training camps were organised by these people especially during Covid-19 times. They were trained in tradecraft (techniques/technology used in modern espionage), radicalisation, indoctrination, gun training and bomb-making.”
“While Popular Front of India (PFI) has no direct links with the ABT modules we busted, that organisation is creating an ecosystem. They are spreading lies that Muslims are victims of the state. They don’t talk about benefits given to Muslims in the past eight years,” said the CM.
Though Assam has closed 750 government madrassas, there are 800 qawmi madrassas, 500 hafizi madrassas, and 200 banat madrassas in the state.
“Demolition of madrassa without the order of the court is unfair and highhandedness of the BJP government. Let the government cite an example where anyone arrested in doubts of links with jihad has been established by the court of law,” stated Aminul Islam, MLA, AIUDF.
Reacting to the AIUDF stand, chairman of Assam State Linguistic Minority Board, Shiladitya Deb, said, “The demolition of the madrassa is praiseworthy. Most madrassas prepare jihadis. These madrassas should be closed down to save the students and stop further division of the community.”