The Assam police have detained a third person for alleged links with terrorist organisations following the sealing of a private museum that purportedly showcased the culture and traditions of Bengali-origin Muslims.
G.P. Singh, Special Director-General of Police, Assam, said Tanu Dhadumia, a resident of Namrup in eastern Assam was detained in connection with a case registered in Ghograpar of Nalbari district. Several terror suspects have been arrested in this case under a few sections of the Indian Penal Code dealing with criminal conspiracy, read with two sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
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Dhadumia, a non-Muslim who was temporarily associated with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), was among the guests who had attended the inauguration of the controversial museum on October 23.
The local authorities sealed the museum on October 25 as it “violated the provisions of the Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana-Gramin scheme”. The museum at Dapkarbhita in Goalpara district had been set up at the residence of Mohar Ali, the chairperson of All Assam Miya Parishad. Officials said he was allotted the house under the scheme in 2018.
Ali was detained in connection with the case along with parishad member Abdul Baten of Dhubri district. The former was also served a notice by the Rural Development Department to explain why he converted his PMAY-G house into a museum. Mr. Singh said the trio continue to be detained for interrogation.
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Meanwhile, the AAP distanced itself from Dadhumia. “He was appointed for the municipal election (March 2022) but was removed as he could not give any candidate or form ward teams,” the party’s State coordinator Bhaben Choudhury told The Hindu.
The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) also steered clear of the museum row. Aminul Islam, MLA and party general secretary, told presspersons that the AIUDF does not support a museum for the so-called Miya people. “But one should try to know why it was opened. Besides, the Constitution gives the right to showcase one’s culture,” he said.
“We do not know why the museum was sealed. However, I have always been of the opinion that any such project should be pursued in consultation with the authorities,” M. Giasuddin Hazarika, the chief adviser of Miya Parishad said.
The All Assam Minority Students’ Union pointed out that the museum row reeked of a “political drama” to polarise people keeping the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in mind. “Anything to do with ‘Miya’ stokes the sentiments of non-Muslims in Assam,” union leader Rejaul Karim Laskar said.
Bengali-speaking migrant Muslims are pejoratively referred to as ‘Miya’ in Assam, although the word is a civil form of address among the minorities elsewhere in India. The BJP and affiliate organisations consider them a threat to the identity and culture of the indigenous communities.
Muslims comprise more than 34% of Assam’s population. A majority of them are Bengali-speakers or Bengal-origin Muslims, politically sifted from the indigenous Assamese Muslims.