Citing 'Links to Terrorists', Assam Govt Bulldozes Three Madrassas in August

Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said these institutions were being used as a 'hub for terrorism'. Since Sarma became CM, 700 state-funded madrasas run by an education board have been shut down. 

Listen to this article:

New Delhi: As many as three madrassas have been demolished by the administration in August in Assam.

This is understood to be the direct result of the state police stepping up its surveillance on imams visiting these institutions from outside. Cops suspect that some of them to have links to the Ansarullah Bangla Team, a Bangladesh-based terror outfit associated with the Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). 

The latest incident of demolishing a madrassa with a bulldozer has come from the state’s Bongaigaon district on August 31. The demolition order was issued by the office of the Bongaigaon deputy commissioner.

As per news reports, the DC’s order cited insufficient provisions and a lack of open space to deal with fires and earthquakes at the Markazul-Ma-Arif Quariana Madrassa premises to justify the demolition.

The madrassa houses over 200 students. The order called the building “structurally vulnerable and unsafe for human habitation”. 

Also read: Assam: Day After Attack on Police Station, Govt Demolishes Houses of Villagers Involved

Acting on a report put together to that effect by the district superintendent of police, the order issued by the office of the DC called for razing the entire structure, leaving untouched a mosque standing a little away from it, but within the madrassa complex. 

The August 31 action is part of the state administration’s heightened attention to madrassas after a teacher in Morigaon district was arrested for harbouring two Bangladeshi nationals who police said have links to the Ansarullah Bangla Team and AQIS. As per police, the Bangladeshi nationals had been absconding. The madrasa in which they were housed in the district was demolished on August 4. 

On August 29, another madrassa in Barpeta district was brought down. As per news reports, the district police stated that it was built on government land. Police claimed that two Bangladeshi nationals linked to the terror groups had found shelter in that madrassa. 

Responding to the August 29 demolition, state chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told media persons that these institutions were being used as “a hub for terrorism”.

Claiming that “jihadi” elements “have infiltrated and taken cover under the guise of imams”, the chief minister told Times of India, “We have been evicting madrassas wherever we have received complaints of fundamentalists.”

Also read: With CM’s Endorsement, Assam Police Forges Ahead on ‘Encounter’ Spree

A week before the madrassa in Barpeta was demolished, Sarma announced that imams visiting the state from other areas would have to register themselves in a government portal and inform the local police about their arrival. 

Earlier that day, state director general of police Bhaskar Mahanta met Maulana Abdul Qadir, secretary of Tanzim Council which runs most of the madrassas in Assam. In that meeting, Qadir handed over a directory of all the madrassas run by the Council.

“Going forward, we want to create a master directory of all the madrassas being run in Assam. A tough job, as many of them are unregistered and unauthorized. Our objective – to prevent anti-India, jihadi elements from utilizing the madrassas for their nefarious fundamentalist purposes,” the DGP tweeted. 

Since Sarma has taken over the state’s chief minister’s chair, as many as 700 state-funded madrassas run by an education board have also been shut down.