People accused of jihadi activities had role in opening ‘Miya museum’: Assam cops
The Assam police claimed that persons accused of having links with jihadi outfits had played a role in opening the ‘Miya’ museum
A day after a museum highlighting the culture of Bengali Muslim residents was sealed in Assam and its founders detained, the Assam police claimed on Wednesday that persons accused of having links with jihadi outfits had played a role in opening the museum.
The museum of Miyas, a term used for Bengali Muslims with origins in present day Bangladesh, located at Dapkarbhita in Lakhipur town of Goalpara district was sealed by authorities on Tuesday as it was opened in a residence allotted under Centre’s flagship housing scheme Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
A few hours after it was sealed, owner of the house, Mohar Ali, a suspended government school teacher, who is also the chairperson of the Assam Miya Parishad, its general secretary Abdul Baten and a teacher Tanu Dhadumia, who inaugurated the museum on October 23, were detained by the police.
Special DGP (law and order) GP Singh said on Twitter that all three had been detained in connection with a case lodged in Ghograpar in Nalbari district for their alleged links with persons arrested on charges of being cadres of Al Qaida in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a Bangladesh-based terror outfit.
“Earlier this month we had arrested three jihadis, Jubair Hussain, Abu Raihan and Habel Ali, who had links with AQIS and ABT. All of them, who are still in our custody, had stated during questioning that they had some contribution in setting up the Miya museum,” said Nalbari superintendent of police, Phanindra Kumar Nath.
“After getting this information, we passed it on to our colleagues in Goalpara, Dhubri and Dibrugarh districts and picked up Mohar Ali, Abu Baten and Tanu Dhadumia, all three associated with the Miya museum, on Tuesday night. They were brought to Nalbari and are being interrogated,” he added.
Following several hours of interrogation on Wednesday, all three persons were arrested by the Nalbari police. Two others, Sadek Ali and Jakibul Ali, both nabbed by the Tamulpur district police earlier this month for alleged links to AQIS and ABT, were also arrested in the same case.
A police official on condition of anonymity said that following banning of Muslim organisations like Popular Front of India (PFI) last month, several new organisations with ideologies similar to it have sprung up and they could have played a role in setting up the museum in Goalpara.
“It is suspected that these new elements as well as the jihadis that we had already arrested could have incited the office-bearers of the Assam Miya Parishad to set up a museum for the community,” said the police official.
On Tuesday, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma while questioning the origin and authenticity of the artefacts on display at the Miya museum also raised doubts on the source of funding to launch the initiative.
The opening of the museum had led to a demand from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam seeking its closure. Opposition parties like the Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) while supporting the move to seal it as it was located in a house allotted under PMAY scheme, questioned the detention of those involved with it.
“Since the museum was set up in a PMAY allotted house, the government was right in sealing it. Also, there are questions on the origin of the items on display. But the detention of three persons seems to be a political conspiracy,” said Ainuddin Ahmed, adviser, the All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU).
“We appeal to the government that innocent persons should not be persecuted. Law should be allowed to take its course and the real issue revealed,” he added.