After the Assam Police busted five “Jihadi” modules since March, and the recent arrest of two suspected terrorists, who were working as Imams of two different mosques, the state government is readying an anti-terror drive. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday that a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be set for Imams and madrasa teachers working in the state.

A madrasa teacher and an Al-Qaeda Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) member, Mufti Mustafa, was arrested on July 27 for his alleged involvement after the police busted the Morigaon module. The Assam government had demolished the madrasa run by AQIS affiliate Ansar ul Islam at Moriabari in Morigaon district. Mustafa was allegedly engaging and coordinating with Imams working in different mosques.

In another instance, the police arrested two Imams in Goalpara who allegedly had links with the AQIS and Bangladesh-based outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT). The Imams have been identified as Abdus Subhan of Tinkoniapara Mosque and Jalaluddin Sheikh of Tilapara Mosque in Matia in Goalpara district.

CM Sarma had said the government needs the help of local Muslims in Assam to track the terror suspects. He asked the Muslim community to inform the nearest police station if they see a new Imam in their village, who they do not know. “The police will investigate and only then the person from place other than Assam can work here as an Imam or a madrassa teacher,” he pointed out.

“We have planned to make a portal for Imams and madrasa teachers, particularly religious madrasas, because we have already closed down government madrasas. We will keep a strict record of who is working in masjids and madrasas of our state,” he added.

Assam Police Superintendent of Police VV Rakesh Reddy told News18, “In 2019, the Dharma Sabha was held where most of these Bangladeshi nationals linked to Al Qaeda would meet. Maminur Rasheed of Barpeta and Mustafa of Moriagoan had come there. Abdus Subhan had definitely travelled from here to Barpeta and met Maminur Rasheed and had discussions about their operations and objectives. Abdus Subhan went to Morigaon and met Mustafa along with another Bangladeshi national, who is wanted in our cases. These meetings cannot be coincidental.”

“We have recovered jihadi literature from them. They were recruiting members by indoctrinating jihad into the youths. They were working as sleeper cells. We are now keeping a strong eye on places like madrasas and masjids… We are also questioning their families and showing photographs of the Bangladeshi nationals who visited Abdus Subhan and their families,” the SP added.

Jia-ul Haque, a teacher of the Sundarpur Tilapara Madrassa, said, “Earlier, we have seen how Dharma Sabhas were organised on the basis of donations made by locals here. Someone gave rice, dal and other things. But Abdus Subhan would organise it without a single rupee donation. That made us doubt that how was he getting the money? We questioned him and called for a meeting with him but he left two days before the meeting, and took along all his students.”

Haque also pointed out the Abdus Subhan never participated in any public functions. “We saw unknown faces with peculiar Bengali accent whom he would bring to deliver speeches in the Dharma Sabha,” Haque said.

The villagers also told News18 that they were ashamed that word “terrorist” has been now attached to their place. They have demanded strictest action if the both imams are proven guilty.