Assam will require religious teachers at mosques and madrasas to register themselves on a government portal if they come from outside the state, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday, announcing new rules two days after the arrest of two such clerics for terrorist activities.
“One of those arrested, who worked as an Imam in a mosque, was the kingpin. He had expanded the Jihadi network in many villages. Six Bangladeshi nationals had entered Assam for expanding the Jihadi network. Out of six Bangladeshi nationals, Assam police have arrested one and five are still absconding. Assam police will continue its operation,” Mr Sarma said.
“We now have made some Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that if any Imam comes to the village, you must have to inform local police for the verification. After being verified by the police, people can hire him as an Imam. The Muslim society of Assam is extending their support to us on this,” he added.
These rules will not apply to residents of Assam. “There is no need to register their details for those who are the resident of Assam. But those who come from outside the state will have to register their details in the portal,” the Chief Minister said.
Mr Sarma had recently said that Assam has become a hotbed of “jihadi activities”. Five modules with links to Bangladeshi terrorist group Ansarul Islam were busted in the last five months.
The police have arrested over 40 people so far since March this year and a strict vigil is being maintained, particularly in the minority-dominated areas of lower and central Assam, news agency PTI reported, quoting officials.
The two clerics arrested in Assam’s Goalpara district two days ago have been accused of radicalising Muslim young men in the state and having links with terror outfit Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
The police have registered a case against the two under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and are investigating more such people who are likely to be arrested soon, senior police officer VV Rakesh Reddy told reporters on Monday in Goalpara.
The arrested men have been identified as Abdus Sobahan, a cleric of Tinkonia Shantipur Masjid under Mornoi police station and Jalaluddin, a cleric of Tilapara Masjid under Matia police station.
Sobahan is a member of AQIS, the police officer said.
Both the arrested clerics had been radicalising young men for the last three to four years, he said, adding, “We have also found that they have links with several jihadis arrested in the state earlier and another who was apprehended in West Bengal”.
The police have seized several books, posters and a mobile phone used to contact terrorists in Bangladesh from the two men, Mr Reddy said.
They were produced at the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Goalpara and sent to police custody for seven days.