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Probe madrasa demolition: Assam Congress to NCM

Letter to the minorities’ panel preceded the “voluntary” dismantling of another madrasa accused of “jihadi” links on Tuesday

September 06, 2022 11:54 am | Updated 06:41 pm IST - Guwahati

A madarsa being demolished by authorities for allegedly carrying out ‘jihadi’ activities on its premises, in Bongaigaon district, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022.

A madarsa being demolished by authorities for allegedly carrying out ‘jihadi’ activities on its premises, in Bongaigaon district, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Five Assam Congress lawmakers have written to the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), seeking a probe into the demolition of a madrasa in the State’s Bongaigaon and ensure justice for its 224 students.

The letter preceded the “voluntary” dismantling of another madrasa by locals in Goalpara district on Tuesday after it was found to have been misused for alleged “jihadi” activities.

The signatories of the letter to NCM chairperson Iqbal Singh Lalpura are MP Abdul Khaleque and MLAs Pradip Sarkar, Abdur Rashid Mondal, Asif Nazar and Abdul Batin Khandakar.

They said the State government demolished the Markazul Ma-Arif Quariayana Madrasa in Bongaigaon on August 31 “in blatant disregard to the rule of law”.

The demolition followed the arrest of a teacher of the madrasa on charges of working for al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a Bangladesh-based terror outfit.

The Bongaigaon district authorities justified the madrasa’s demolition through an order that it was structurally unsafe, not built according to PWD specifications and did not have the necessary documents for multipurpose activities.

“The district administration did not give sufficient time to the 224 residential students of the madrasa, who were mostly minors, to vacate the premises. The students had to vacate in the middle of the night, and had no shelter as most of them came from far-off places,” the Congress leaders said in the letter.

Also read | Links of 11 arrested in Assam with Bangladeshi terror outfit confirmed: Police

The unlawful action was tantamount to denying the students the right to education, the lawmakers said and claimed the madrasa building was completed three years ago after acquiring permission from the local panchayat.

They said the action was unnecessary as the madrasa management had suspended the arrested teacher and had cooperated with the investigation agencies while no incriminating documents were found.

The lawmakers accused the government of bringing down the madrasa “under the garb of safety” by misusing the law and hoped the NCM would ensure justice for the students of the demolished madrasa as well as those of two others bulldozed in Barpeta and Morigaon districts.

Meanwhile, the Assam police claimed the locals of Darogar Alga village on Pakhiura Char in Goalpara district voluntarily demolished a madrasa that had employed two suspected Bangladeshi nationals linked to terror organisations.

The village on a sandbar or river island is inhabited by Bengali-speaking Muslims. The locals also brought down a house that adjoined the madrasa. The two suspected Bangladeshi nationals – Aminul Islam and Jahangir Alom – used to stay in this semi-permanent structure, the police said. The two are absconding.

“The voluntary demolition was an outcome of the strong resentment towards the jihadi activities that were being carried out from the madrasa,” a spokesperson at the Assam police headquarters said.

The police had a few days ago arrested one Jalaluddin Sheikh who had engaged Islam and Alom – both alleged members of ABT – as teachers at the Darogar Alga madrasa at different times during 2020-22.

On September 4, Assam’s Director-General of Police, Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said some Muslim MLAs and heads of four Islamic organisations that together run more than 1,000 private madrasas, had promised to take action against madrasas and mosques involved in “jihadi” activities.

He also said a web portal would be launched specifically for madrasas to upload their details such as location, authorisation certificates, names and addresses of teachers, the number of students and other relevant information.

Mr. Mahanta justified the move to monitor the madrasas. “Our objective is to stop international conspiracies by al-Qaeda and rogue organisations such as (Pakistani) ISI to turn Assam into their jihadi playground,” he said.

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