Assam police have been asked to hand over to the central anti-terror agency the cases pertaining to the arrest of persons allegedly linked to the Al Qaida in Subcontinent (AQIS), said Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The latest arrest in the case was of a Madrassa teacher, Mufti Hafizur Rehman, in Goalpara district. The arrests have been made in connection to the busting of a sleeper cell module of Ansarul Bangla Team (ABT), a Bangladesh-based Jihadi group known as a wing of AQIS, in the district earlier this week. This was the sixth such AQIS-backed module busted since April. As many as 35 people have been arrested in this connection since then.
The Assam government’s decision to hand over the terror cases to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) comes amid a section of Opposition leaders and lawmakers raising concerns over the arrest of only Imams, Muslim clerics and Madrassa teachers in connection to these modules.
Chief Minister Sarma has advised Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta to hand over the case to the NIA following initial investigation and registration of a case regarding the modules.
“We have already given the Morigaon (module) case to NIA as it has a larger mandate than the Assam police. I have told the DGP that after the initial investigation and registration of the case, it must be given to the NIA,” said the Chief Minister.
Meanwhile, the Opposition has accused the BJP government in the state of trying to create a narrative by making these arrests.
“When someone is picked (by the police) based on suspicion, then there must be further investigation. The BJP is creating a narrative and the media is getting trapped,” AIUDF MLA Karim Uddin Barbhuiya told LOKJANTA STAFF.
“The clerics are helping in the investigation since the Muslims of Assam can never help terror groups. It’s not in our DNA,” he added.
However, Mr Sarma ruled out any partiality in the investigations and even offered to facilitate the Opposition leaders to meet those arrested.
“I can facilitate the visit of people from the opposition to meet these people in jail. We have video evidence of these people engaged in jihadi activities. Some of them have admitted it as their mistake,” the Chief Minister said.
Meanwhile, DGP Mahanta told reporters in Goalpara that several arrests have been made in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, with which they are trying to establish a co-relation.
“They had a massive plan. We have identified the leader, but most of them are on the run. They use the term “cut-off” when one group is not aware of the existence of the other,” he said.
They are preparing terrorists “for the future” and have organised several training camps across Assam, added the DGP.